Leadership Profile

What's Happening at Cedar Crest College

Students Get an Inside Look at Life in Afghanistan

Power of Women founder Pamela Varkony spoke to a group of Cedar Crest students recently about her experiences while traveling through Afghanistan. A country known for its turbulent government and less than equal opportunity for women, Varkony painted a struggled-filled, yet hopeful picture for the country’s future--particularly the future of women.

Pamela Varkony with children in Afghanistan

Members of Assistant Professor Precious Yamaguchi’s interpersonal communication class, as well as others from campus gathered in Cedar Crest’s media convergence lab as Varkony discussed the geographic and economic factors that contribute to Afghanistan’s culture and traditions. The presentation was a part of the multicultural center’s “Talking Circles”-- gatherings for the specific purpose of promoting leadership and understanding while discussing topics of equality, social justice and more.

Varkony has traveled to Afghanistan on two different occasions, both as a journalist as well as a volunteer for the Business Council of Peace (Bpeace), an organization dedicated to creating jobs and assisting women in conflict-ridden countries.

Varkony shared several stories about her experiences, focusing on the living conditions for woman and children in the country. In one instance, Varkony told the story of the first day care center in Kabul, where she witnessed children seeing and playing with Crayola crayons and markers for the first time. She also discussed her work with Bpeace, where they offered business training and mentorship opportunities to woman they identified as “fast runners,” or women who were already conducting business at some level. Varkony spent time with three women who owned a co-op boutique shop. Other women have also visited the Lehigh Valley and Cedar Crest College through BPeace.

Varkony’s main message to the students was that they, as leaders and as woman, have the power to promote change. While describing a story of how she helped save the life of a young Afghan girl whose family could not afford a difficult heart surgery by finding an organization to fund the surgery, Varkony stressed that “we can all make a difference.”

“As young women, you are the future,” she said.

Power of Women—a Lehigh Valley-based women’s empowerment organization “dedicated to providing opportunities for women to reach their goals and their potential”— joined Cedar Crest College in the fall to bring the best in educational programming, lectures, and networking opportunities to women in the Lehigh Valley and beyond.