By Josh Idaszak —

Before last summer, human rights activist Pashtana Durrani lived in Kandahar, working as executive director of LEARN Afghanistan, a nonprofit she founded in 2018 to expand educational opportunities in the country. At the same time, the then 23-year-old was pursuing a degree in political science at American University Afghanistan.

All that changed when the Taliban regained power in August. Durrani quickly went into hiding to protect her family. She stayed in Afghanistan during the initial weeks of Taliban control, but she left after regional security services told her people were plotting to attack her. She ultimately accepted a visiting fellowship at the Wellesley Centers for Women, arriving on campus in November. During her two-year appointment, she is researching ways to help Afghan women and girls pursue education and support the health of Afghan mothers and babies. She is also finishing her degree at American University Afghanistan remotely.

“I needed to put my education first,” Durrani says. “If I am well educated, I can serve my country and my people better. I also literally made intelligence services anxious, and people wanted me dead or in exile. So I chose exile.”…

Originally posted in Wellesley Magazine.