An estimated 70 Afghan Americans who call Sacramento home are still stuck in Afghanistan, now under Taliban rule. Of those 70 people, about 30 are students, mainly from San Juan Unified School District as well as a few from Sacramento City Unified and the Washington Unified School District.
Three of the students attend Ethel Baker Elementary School in Sacramento, and the school is in touch with the kids and their family. They're okay, but the effort to get them back has been difficult and frustrating. CapRadio's Vicki Gonzales spoke with the school's principal, Nate McGill.
On the Afghan American families in Sacramento
Many of our Afghan families continue to do distance learning, even with the 11-hour, 12-hour time difference. So it'd be the middle of the night. And their parents insisted that they be taking classes here in the morning, which is a testament to kind of who they are. And so they're like any other of our students, they're our constituents. And so the kind of uncertainty about what their fate holds is, frankly, it's terrifying.
On the road blocks they are encountering
Initially, it was just basically safety. We're not on the ground there, so we don't know exactly [what’s happening]. But to have to go through channels, whether they're connections, from the superintendent's office that we may have diplomatically and then also channels that I happen to have with folks who are over there, along with this teacher team who was talking to folks on the ground, it's just like this vast kind of unknown about what is actually occurring. And so the scariest obstacle is that they try to go to the gate on [August] 30th and were shot at and the kids experience some tear gas. That's about as dangerous as it gets. So that was one obstacle. And the other is just simply the communication. Like, it's amazing that we got so many folks out given the system. But we have to get everyone out. There's no other option.
On a photo of those students and what it means to him and the school community
Yeah, I get emotional talking about it. It was the 31st and mom described that she had lost all hope and so that she had each of the kids, they held up signs that said, “I want to come home; I'm so scared here. I missed my school,” and sent it to us. And I think the sort of reflection of their desperation, they didn't know what else to do in that moment. So they were at the mercy of this diplomatic process that that at that time and still it just was not serving them.
On what's next for him and his staff when it comes to their three students that are still in Afghanistan
Well, get them home. That would be number one and serve the entire family with respect to what they need for mental health and emotional health and then get them back to class and have them make up what they missed, because I know that's what their parents are going to want.
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