Iowan Starts Campaign to Bring Afghan Woman to the University of Iowa

Mar 11, 2016

University of Iowa student Emily Roberts met a 19 year old who lives in Afghanistan online, through a language learning exchange. The two became fast friends. 

"Sultana and I were talking and I was asking her questions so she could practice her English. I asked her what her perfect day was," Roberts says. "She said, 'well, I would wake up in the morning and study physics all day.' I thought that sounded like a terrible day, but that's when I knew I had to try to get her here." 

Roberts has been chatting a few times a week with Sultana since late summer, and has helped her work through the college application process and student visa process. The college application process has been especially challenging considering that in Afghanistan, Sultana hasn't had any formal schooling since age 11 because she's a girl. 

"When she was 11," Roberts explains, "she started educating herself because men showed up at her door and said that they would burn her face with acid if her parents kept sending her to school." 

During this River to River conversation, host Ben Kieffer talks with Roberts, and we hear part of a conversation she had with Sultana just a few days ago. Roberts has created a GoFundMe page because if Sultana can prove she has the resources to attend college in the United States, she would be able to attend the University of Iowa on a student visa. 

Also during this River to River broadcast, Kieffer talks with Des Moines Register Reporter Bill Petroski about the recently approved Bakken pipeline, and Adam Jacobi, who blogs for BlackHeartGoldPants.com about the upcoming NCAA tournament. During the second half of the show, IPR's Amy Mayer updates us on new cash crops for Iowa, and we get a preview of a new Iowa Public Television documentary about female farmers.