Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > News

Carleton University’s New Afghan Student Association To Promote Afghan Culture And Help Newcomers

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.

The Afghan Student Association was founded at Carleton University just a few weeks ago. This association will impact not just the Carleton community but also the wider Ottawa community and so far consists of 30 active members. After speaking with Madina Mashkoori, I got a better sense of what the Afghan Student Association hopes to accomplish.

Madina Mashkoori is a first-year student at Carleton University, studying Global and International Studies with a specialization in Global Politics. Fourteen months ago, Madina and her family left Kabul and arrived in Ottawa. She left Afghanistan because her life was threatened due to her family’s involvement with the government and because she was a woman with a job. 

During our sit-down, I asked Madina what sparked her interest in creating an Afghan Student Association. “Carleton is a very diverse university, so everyone has their own association,” she told me, “Where are my people?”

She did some networking and connected with other Afghan students in a bid to start the association. “It’s not only focused on Afghan students, anybody can join,” Madina emphasized. 

Afghanistan is facing a famine while restrictions on women are becoming more severe, as many women are banned from school and work. The association’s goal is to give Afghan students somewhere to gather and to advocate for both human and women’s rights.

“We are trying to make some programs for female students in Afghanistan so that they don’t fall behind, while also making an environment here for students from Afghanistan and newcomers,” Madina said. She added that she hopes to guide newly arrived students from Afghanistan and provide them with the academic support that they need to pursue their studies here successfully.

Tasmanno Habibullah Mahash is a marketing executive for the association. Tasmanno is Afghan, but was born in Uzbekistan and came to Gatineau when she was nine. She joined the association in the hopes of meeting other Afghan students. “I don’t know a lot of Afghans,” Tasmanno said. “I want to be closer to my culture.”

The association held a welcoming event without funding before they were approved by CUSA. “All the members contributed themselves,” Madina said. This was mainly a promotional event to introduce the club to Carleton students, highlight their main goals and introduce Afghan culture and food to the attendees.

After this event, their Instagram followers doubled. “We didn’t only have Afghan students,” Madina said. “We had Arab students, Pakistani, Indian, Canadian students, it was so diverse.”

Madina says that they plan to cook food for students who are away from home during the spiritual time of Ramadan. This summer, they hope to host an event to raise money to send to Afghanistan and set up advocacy programs to help Afghan women there. 

“We want this to be stable, we don’t want it to break apart after we graduate.”

In the future, they hope to host large fundraisers and collaborate with the Afghan Embassy to develop mini-programs for students back in Afghanistan who don’t have access to education.

Isabelle is a first year Journalism and Political Science student at Carleton University. She is an international student coming from Paris and is particularly interested in political and war reporting. From a young age, Isabelle developed a passion for writing and story-telling.