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GeoVisions announces ‘Teaching Beyond Borders’ – A compelling new article series by journalist Saleha Soadat.

Originally from Kabul, Afghanistan, Soadat brings a poignant perspective to the stories of international educators in the USA under the J-1 Teacher Exchange program. This series illuminates the rich experiences of teachers from around the world who have ventured far from home to enhance their careers and foster cross-cultural connections in American classrooms.

The J-1 Teacher Exchange program offers qualified teachers from around the world the opportunity to live in the USA for up to 5 years, teaching at the elementary or high school level.  It provides the teachers with a wonderful way to enhance their teaching skills, immersing themselves fully in the American educational system, collaborating with fellow teachers, and, most importantly, fostering cross-cultural exchange by showcasing their own culture and heritage.

Each article in the series focuses on a different exchange teacher , exploring their personal journey to the USA, their background and passion for teaching, and the motivations that inspired them to uproot their lives and grasp this international opportunity. The stories are as much a testament to their tenacity as a celebration of their success and serve as a powerful reminder of the power of cultural exchange.

Saleha Soadat’s own journey – marked by a sudden need to flee Kabul in 2021 and rebuild her life in the U.S. – mirrors the adaptability and courage she chronicles in others. Having received her B.A. in Journalism from Kabul University, Soadat worked in print journalism, radio, and TV news in her native Afghanistan for over ten years.  Her entire life was upended when the Taliban arrived in Kabul in August 2021, and, fearing for her safety, she was evacuated by the U.S. government and brought to the U.S.

“When I was in Afghanistan, I had everything.  I had a great job.  I didn’t have any plans to move abroad – I didn’t even think about it as I had a nice life there. It all happened suddenly.  I had to leave my friends, my family, and my country with just a single backpack.”

In contrast to the teachers she has interviewed for the ‘Teaching Beyond Borders’ series, many of whom have spent years planning and preparing for their move to the USA, Soadat’s sudden evacuation gave her no time to prepare.

“When I came, I didn’t even know my final destination. I didn’t have any idea.  These teachers’ stories are success stories – they had plans and goals.  For me, it was totally different. I had to start everything from scratch. But for all of us, it is a new experience, a new environment with new systems, culture, and language, and that is true for me, too.”

Soadat has found solidarity within their stories, saying,

When I compare my situation with other women educators who have come to the U.S. from around the world, every single woman gives me hope.  In the U.S., there is a lot of freedom for women, but that’s not the case in many of the countries where we have come from.  The U.S. has a lot of opportunities, but it’s still a challenge if you don’t know about the system here or understand the language.  These women are very strong, and I find them very inspiring.”

Each piece is a window into the lives of these remarkable educators and an invitation to reflect on the power of teaching as a bridge between cultures. With five of the twelve articles completed, Soadat has enjoyed using her journalistic skills in a new area.

As a journalist, I was used to working on stories about my people, my culture, and my country. It has been exciting to learn about the backgrounds of these teachers – their different countries, languages, and histories. It’s been a new experience for me, and I’ve enjoyed every single moment of it.”

Having received a scholarship from the Department of State and the Texas International Education Consortium, Soadat is now studying for her Master’s at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. In addition to working on the ‘Teaching Beyond Borders’ series for GeoVisions, she is a freelance journalist with Borderless magazine, based in Chicago.

Speaking about the project, Jimmy Brazelton, Managing Director of Geovisions, says,

“We are incredibly proud to support Saleha Soadat in sharing these powerful narratives through our ‘Teaching Beyond Borders’ series. Saleha’s unique perspective, shaped by her own profound experiences and her professional background in journalism, enriches our understanding of the cultural exchanges fostered by the J-1 Teacher Exchange program. Her work not only highlights the diverse stories of international educators in the U.S. but also emphasizes the universal quest for knowledge and mutual respect across cultures. At GeoVisions, we believe that education is a bridge built on the pillars of understanding and respect, and Saleha’s compelling storytelling reinforces this vision beautifully.”

Click here to read the articles in this series.