A CUNY Professor’s journey to save Her ‘Literary family members’ through the Taliban

A CUNY Professor’s journey to save Her ‘Literary family members’ through the Taliban

November 22, 2021

In the wake for this summertime’s U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan additionally the return to power with the Taliban, many Afghan groups will still be attempting to evacuate their unique country and arrive at america. Zohra Saed (left), a poet, editor and notable teacher at Macaulay Honors College who had been created in Afghanistan, possess rallied her literary peers and family in brand new York’s society of main Asian immigrants to save one such imperiled household — a writer, his sibling and father and nine different family, like young ones — who happen to be all now in covering up. Saed enlisted certainly the woman former students, Mayha Ghouri, a CUNY Law college graduate that is today an immigration attorney, to lodge programs for emergency visas that could permit them to evacuate and enter the united states of america. Saed and Ghouri join the CUNYcast to inform their particular dramatic story.


  • ‘My Homeland’: A Poet’s search to greatly help a Family Flee Afghanistan (the latest York period)
  • CUNY Lecturer supports High-Stakes work to Help Imperiled author with his families Flee Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan (CUNY Information)
  • Explainer: Humanitarian Parole therefore the Afghan Evacuation (nationwide Immigration community forum)
  • Subscribe to the UpSet push fundraising promotion for families’s evacuations
  • Afghanistan conflict history (Council on overseas interaction)
  • About UpSet hit
  • About Neighbors Connect


RICK FIRSTMAN: come july 1st, if the U.S. started withdrawing from Afghanistan in addition to Taliban comprise easily seizing controls, Zohra Saed’s thinking turned to the fate of just one family. Zohra grew up in Afghanistan, concerned ny, attained three CUNY levels, nowadays she’s a poet and editor and a professor at Macaulay awards school. Three-years ago, she started working together with an author in northern Afghanistan to translate the people poems he’d become accumulating and release them in a novel. Although Taliban’s come back to power have the lady concerned about your, also his sis and parent and rest of their loved ones. In several approaches, they’d come mixed up in adaptation of Afghanistan that today generated all of them targets of this Taliban. They had to get out. From the girl suite in Brooklyn, teacher Saed attempted to assist the family, 12 folks in all including offspring. She mobilized the woman social network of literary colleagues and company in brand new York’s society of main Asian immigrants. After that she enlisted certainly the lady former people, Mayha Ghouri, a CUNY laws School graduate who’s an immigration attorney, to lodge software for visas under an urgent situation process that allows your family to get to the usa. She’s increased thousands of dollars because of their software charge and trips spending as household continues to be in hiding as well as on the run in Afghanistan. I’m happy to need both Zohra Saed and Mayha Ghouri right here regarding CUNYCast to speak about their particular search.

Zohra, I’d choose to focus on both you and your own record, and is section of looking for no strings attached relationship this facts. Tell me about your household as well as your own trip for the usa.

Zohra Saed: Well, we came, I was born in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, and now we comprise the only real Uzbek family in this location, so we are well recognized. We were generations of dentists in your community so my dad got expected I’d end up being a dentist, but used to don’t be a dentist. But my dad got most concerned about having a better training for my situation and my buddy. Therefore we went along to Saudi Arabia following to Brooklyn from that point. So we grew up in this diasporic Turkic society, right in Sheepshead Bay while the areas, i suppose Kings road, Midwood, as a result it stretched all along.

RF: And you went along to Brooklyn College for your own bachelor’s and MFA, right after which towards the scholar Center to suit your PhD in literature?

ZS: Books, yes, American literary works.

RF: And, therefore, the root with the facts we’re will be making reference to return i assume two decades to 2001, the season the U.S. started the combat on horror in Afghanistan after 9/11 and drove the Taliban out-of energy. And it was that same year, ironically, you and a fellow Brooklyn university Master’s MFA beginner began a micro newspapers labeled as UpSet push. So tell me about that as well as how it brought you to definitely know this author and his awesome group. And I’ll state right here for the listeners that for your safety on the household, you’re gonna incorporate pseudonyms, Ahmed the blogger and Sara for his sis.

ZS: Thus when you look at the Brooklyn university MFA system, we met my best friend Robert Booras, and we comprise both run ‘zines during the time. He was concentrating on Sunset Park, an artists’ and article authors’ publication, and I ended up being undertaking Ripe Guava. So we chose that individuals planned to begin a press and in addition we comprise symbolizing an integral part of Brooklyn we considered is underrepresented. So UpSet Press turned into typically a press that released Brooklyn authors, and many associated with the guides that we’ve posted, about 11 e-books and counting, has focused on marginalized communities, marginalized voices, the kind of services that will, given that name of one’s newspapers, distressed the position quo ended up being our very own rebellious beginning.

RF: So three-years in the past, you’re related to Ahmed. And how performed which come becoming?

ZS: Thus, because might work is on Langston Hughes in middle Asia, I happened to be going to many seminars on kind of Turkic interpretation efforts and main Asian books for me to learn how to change better the poems that are inside Hughes archives. There I met Ahmed’s sibling, who is in addition a Turkic scholar. And then he have explained that their buddy had been gathering Turkic lyrical poetry which can be frequently sung and carried out in from the northern part of Afghanistan when you look at the Uzbek code, and that is quite uncommon to possess they, and I also really was worked up about having my personal click publish something which ended up being a whole lot my personal experience.