ELA High School Medium
In recent decades, Afghanistan has been a country plagued by war. Author Khaled Hosseini’s debut novel, “The Kite Runner,” is set in Afghanistan in the 1960s and 1970s through the 2000s. The book tells the story of two young friends, Amir and Hassan, who are from very different classes and ethnic groups. The story follows them as they navigate life before and after the coup that toppled the Afghan king in 1973, the Russian occupation in the 1980s, and the rule of the Taliban in the 1990s. Listen as the author Afghan-native Hosseini describes how his life experiences are significant to his novel and how he has set out to change the public perception of this Middle Eastern country.
ELA Middle School High
The United States declared war on Afghanistan in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. But Afghanistan had already been a troubled and war torn country for many, many years. In 1996, the Taliban seized control of the country, imposing strict rule over all of its citizens. This story focuses on how the strict rules of society in Afghanistan continue to affect its people--especially children and girls. Listen to this interview with the author of “The Kids of Kabul” and learn more about the challenges faced by Afghan children and women, especially in the area of education.
Current Event October 13, 2016
Former Israeli President and statesman Shimon Peres was one of the founders of Israel. His participation and influence in Israeli politics spanned decades. After his recent passing, he is remembered for winning the Nobel Peace Prize and for his optimism about forming peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Listen to learn more about Peres’ legacy.
Current Event November 1, 2016
The city of Mosul, Iraq is the largest city under ISIS control. After 2 years of violence in Mosul, Iraqi government forces and their allies are planning to retake the city of about one million people. The long-awaited military operations could take weeks or even months. Some people fleeing Mosul do not intend to return home when ISIS is defeated. Like many displaced people, they fear chaos and violence will continue in Mosul, and do not trust that local officials will maintain order. Listen to hear what Mosul may look like after the war.
Current Event October 4, 2016
In the fifth year of the Syrian civil war, more than 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives and more than 11 million people have fled their homes. The city of Aleppo in Syria remains under siege and rebel areas are being bombarded daily by warplanes, killing hundreds of people. The cease-fire between the Russian supported Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and the U.S. backed rebel groups collapsed. There was a deadly attack on a humanitarian convoy, which led to the United Nations halting aid to Syria. In addition to aerial attacks, there are ground offensives, and the water supply was cut off to the opposition-held half of the city. Listen to hear more about the escalation of fighting in Syria.
Current Event January 12, 2016
The relationship between two powerhouses in the Middle East is deteriorating. Iran and Saudi Arabia are battling for domination and control of the Middle East. The withdrawal of the United States and the recent collapse of three Arab states has created a void of power. More recently there is also heightened tension between Sunnis and Shiites because Saudi Arabia recently executed a well known Shiite cleric. A mob in Iran then ransacked the Saudi Embassy. Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran and other Gulf states and recalled ambassadors from Shiite Iran. Listen to hear how this affects the United States policies and threatens peace talks in Syria.
Current Event November 11, 2015
U.S.Navy warships are often named after cities, presidents and battles. But a new Navy warship was recently named in honor of Marine Rafael Peralta, who died in Iraq. Sgt. Peralta was killed 11 years ago when he took the heroic act of throwing himself onto a grenade to protect his fellow soldiers. This interview is with Rafael Peralta’s brother Ricardo who describes him and the soldiers he saved. Listen to hear more about the bravery of this fallen marine.
Current Event October 26, 2015
Religious diversity is under threat in the Middle East according to a new report by the U.S. State Department. The threat is coming mainly from ISIS. The report recounts the ways ISIS, or the Islamic State, is threatening and attacking Christians and other minority groups. The State Department says these groups are being targeted, sold into slavery or killed. Some want the US. to call these attacks genocide. The U.S. has a special team working on this, acknowledging there is no magic button to fix these issues. Listen to hear about these increased attacks on religious diversity and what it means for the future of the Middle East.
Current Event October 30, 2015
United States airstrikes killed 22 people in a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan that was run by an international aid group, Doctors without Borders. The aid group had given their exact location to the U.S. military, Afghan forces and the Taliban in an effort to avoid being targeted by mistake. Doctors without Borders is calling this act a war crime and the United States is calling this a mistake. Listen to hear about both sides of this issue, and debate your students’ point of view on what constitutes a war crime.
Current Event October 19, 2015
Israelis and Palestinians have had conflicts for centuries. Recently the violence and death toll on both sides has dramatically increased. The focus of the dispute is on one site in the Holy Land that is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. It’s known as Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims. According to an agreement in 1967, Muslim religious authorities administer the site, Israel controls security, and non-Muslims are not allowed to pray there. Jewish activists have recently decided that this is a holy place where Jews should pray, and their mass visits have caused protests. Listen to hear how control over Temple Mount has led to violence and threatens stability in the country.
Current Event October 5, 2015
Russia and the U.S. are conducting airstrikes in Syria, with the agreed target of ISIS. However, Russia has launched 20 airstrikes on other targets besides the terrorist group. The U.S. Defense Secretary said the strikes were expected, but to some, the targets may be a surprise. Russia is said to have targeted rebels who oppose Syrian President Assad, a Russian ally but no friend of the United States. The Defense Secretary said this development may prolong the civil war and drive Syrians toward ISIS. With both Russia and the U.S. conducting air operations in the same country, errors or mistakes are likely. This week, Russia and the U.S. will hold talks to make sure both sides’ pilots do not harm each other during the bombings. Listen to hear more about this developing conflict.
Current Event August 23, 2015
Thousands of migrants fleeing instability in Africa and the Middle East are in a refugee camp in a small town on the coast of France. It’s become a refugee crisis for France as the migrants are living in campsites, building their own homes and waiting for asylum in France or transport to Britain. Many are teenagers without families, and the camp can sometimes be a competitive environment where only the fittest survive. But there are also inspiring stories of people with little helping those who have less. The camp does not provide shelter, which is one of the many ways it does not meet international standards for refugees, says an international aid group. Listen to hear more about this crisis that doesn’t have a ready solution.