SOLA Poetry Club
Facilitator: James Elsaesser
James Elsaesser facilitates online healing poetry with students at the School of Leadership Afghanistan, SOLA, Kabul.
In 2013, James began teaching ESL lessons and engaging in conversational English with SOLA students on Skype. SOLA is currently the only girls boarding school in Afghanistan. The students, grades 6-10, are industrious, inquisitive, and full of life.
Their individual and collective stories are heartfelt and compelling. Education, especially for young girls in Afghanistan, is often a difficult, and even dangerous proposition. The courage and resiliency exemplified by the administration, educators, and students is extraordinary. Knowledge is highly valued at SOLA. The students James has worked with exemplify the SOLA commitment to achievement through education.
Poetry is revered in Afghanistan. The students in the SOLA Poetry Club can readily recite and discuss poems of depth and quality that have been essential to the character of Afghan life for generations. The spoken word of poetry is woven into the fabric of Afghan identity. Poetry is important to these young students, and, interestingly, there is a long, centuries-old oral tradition of women's poetry in Afghanistan.
With a grant provided by IPM, the SOLA Poetry Club created an anthology of their poems, artwork, and photography titled Part of Me, Part of My Soul, in June 2020. The students are delighted at seeing their efforts put into an actual anthology.