By Chelsea Rankin
Patrick Henry College
Eight year old Parwana ran up and down the muddy sidewalks of Kabul, Afghanistan, selling trinkets and scarves to international travelers. She made friends with some Americans working in Kabul, and loved to rattle off the list of subjects she was studying in school and tell them what her favorites were. She would beg them to buy scarves from her, despite the fact that they already owned others from her. Although she lived in a community filled with war, her surroundings never induced her to wipe the mischievous smile from her face. Then, in early September, in an attempt to kill American Coalition Forces, a teenage suicide bomber killed Parwana, along with four other street children.
Several PHC alumni working in Afghanistan had befriended Parwana and this little band of children over the years. They knew the children by name, joked with them, and often collected juice boxes and food from the cafeteria to hand out to the children. The news of the children’s death was alarming and saddening. Tragedies in a war-torn country are so frequent that its inhabitants are used to quickly moving on and forgetting. Yet the PHC alumni who knew the children could not forget.
As a tribute to the children, several PHC alumni decided to launch an annual alumni-awarded scholarship entitled Ariana’s Children Memorial Scholarship. It is designed to be given to a student who demonstrates academic excellence and has a deep desire to serve his international neighbors through an educational endeavor.
The scholarship’s description reads, “The Ariana’s Children Memorial Scholarship is intended to support PHC students with a vision and commitment to work on the international level and who are preparing to do well, seek judgment, and relieve the oppressed (Isaiah 1:17) throughout their academic and professional careers.”
John Curry, a 2009 PHC alumni who befriended the children in Afghanistan, has spent a good deal of time traveling and living in other communities around the world since his graduation. He believes travel is important for students, as it helps them appreciate the globalized nature of today’s society. He developed the idea for the scholarship.
“International travel broadens an individual’s perspective in healthy ways; even if a student's vocation is to raise a family in a small town in Wyoming, I believe international experience will help them fulfill that calling with excellence, with the compassion and understanding that's been shaped in the laboratory of overseas travel,” Curry said.
Curry said that while the focus of the scholarship is academic, living abroad trains students in areas that are professionally attractive: “personal initiative, comfort with dynamic environments and situations, and an ability to collaborate across cultures and language.”
On the scholarship board is Luke McNamara, a 2010 PHC alumnus who also worked in Kabul, Afghanistan. He said that his personal travels have taught him about empathy.
“Seeing the world in simplistic, black and white caricatures is much more difficult when you have lived in another community,” McNamara said.
To apply for the scholarship, click here.
All applications must be received by the end of February 2013.