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LAHORE: Book Clubs Across Borders (BCAB) is a pilot project being implemented by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan, connecting students in Pakistan and Afghanistan by conducting virtual book clubs.

A session at the University of Kabul was cancelled as the city experienced a wave of traumatic violence. The students however, showed resilience and the determination not allowing external factors to deter them and encouraged us to host a session the next day.

The students punctually arrived for the session sharing their feelings regarding their desire to attend "the space the BCAB program creates for them is so important to them that even the atrocity that took place didn't stop them from leaving their homes and making it to the session".

In this one-hour session, the conversations were candid and highlighted the significant history, of feminine discourse particularly in the South Asian region. Having engaged with the team at CAP and attending sessions actively for a period of ten months, the students have developed strong presentation and listening skills. They have developed a skill set that allows them to articulate their thoughts critically; they listen closely and respectfully to ideas that may differ from their own.

In our most recent book club session moderated between Karachi and Kabul, the participants had read the book 'Fearless: Amazing Stories of Women from Pakistan' by Ameneh Shaikh-Farooqi.

Sarah Ziebell, Regional Public Engagement Specialist (REPS) for Pakistan and Afghanistan, US Embassy Islamabad attended the session stating, "I am really excited to hear more about this today, I come from a literature background as a librarian and an English major, my love of reading is one of my top passions in the world and so I give a lot of kudos to our readers joining from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Keep reading, keep exploring. I absolutely love this book because not only is it conveying these stories of women leaders from Pakistan but it is also itself a work of art. I am just completely blown away by the illustrations. I know you will have a lot of fun talking about this book with Amneh and best of luck!"

The project is supported by a US Department of State grant. Kahina Robinson, Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate General Peshawar shared "I've learnt so much from the conversation and it has been inspirational to hear so many different reactions to Amneh's book, to hear the ways that students in Kabul and Karachi are seeing it reflected in their own lives, in their own visions, for their future." The book clubs feature a diverse reading list, which focuses on but is not limited to the following themes: leadership and youth empowerment, empowerment of women and girls; identity and heritage; tolerance and diversity.-PR

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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