Breaking News
More () »

'They know the danger they’re in. They are still going to be educated' | Canyon Crest Academy students virtually teach kids in Afghanistan

San Diego high school students take part in virtual program teaching young girls in Afghanistan.

SAN DIEGO — While most kids in this country have access education, that's not the case in other parts of the world, especially in places torn apart by war.

A group of local high school students is trying to change that, by tutoring kids thousands of miles away.

CBS 8 visited Canyon Crest Academy in Carmel Valley on a recent Thursday night, where students came back to campus hours after their regular school day ended, but as teachers.

“So, for example, there's DNA in my body that makes my hair black,” explained senior, April Zuo.

Zuo and fellow senior, Aditi Anand were conducting a lab about DNA in front of more than three dozen kids, mostly girls, who are located at the Mawoud Learning Academy, a private education center in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The partnership between the two classrooms began in April of last year through a program run by the Samuel Lawrence Foundation.

Zoom is used to connect the two, and English lessons are translated into Farsi.

But, in August, it came to an abrupt end after the Taliban took over, barring most high girls from attending school.

Canyon Crest history teacher, Timothy Stiven wasn't willing to let that happen. 

"My students want to share what they know with your students," Stiven said to the teacher listening from Afghanistan.

"Those girls want to continue their education and I knew my students wanted to be able to help them," explained Stiven.

Mawoud's director, Najibullah Yousefi didn’t want the teaching to end either.

Despite the safety risk, and lack of supplies, he pressed forward, continuing where the two had left off.

“This meeting has lots of benefits for us,” said Yousefi.  

In addition to learning about science, the Afghan students were eager to share their talents as well, including artwork, music, and poetry

Each time a student shared, it generated applause from their audience 8,000 miles away.

One Afghan student expressed his desire to go to journalism school, saying despite all he and his classmates have been through, he's not giving up on his dream.

“I'm the pupil that wants to get my aim. I like my aim. I like very much that I become a good reporter,” said Mohammed Hussein Divanpoor.

In 2018, Mawoud's former campus was leveled by a suicide bombing.

Close to 40 students died.

Even now, the dangers of attending school are still there, yet getting an education is so important, on this particular day - an Afghan holiday when school is not in session - these kids showed up anyway.

"This meeting can help them to keeping their way….to don't lose hope. This is the main benefit," said Yousefi.

That benefit isn't lost on Canyon Crest students, who feel it's their duty to teach.

"We come to school with this idea that we're entitled to our education and that it's something that's bestowed upon us and when we see there are girls of equal intelligence and deserve the same opportunities as us, when we see they aren't receiving the same attention and support as we are, it becomes an obligation for us," said Anand.

To ensure these sessions continue, the Mawoud Learning Academy desperately needs food and funding for supplies and teacher salaries.

Canyon Crest students started a GoFundMe page to help with those efforts.

So far, it's made it possible for the them to stay open, further deepening a relationship that means as much to the kids in Afghanistan as it does to the ones here.

“Amazing to see the universal connection. It's just been wonderful and a pleasure,” said sophomore Emily Khossravi.

WATCH RELATED: San Diegans step up to help Afghan refugees

Before You Leave, Check This Out