Exhibit reveals common threads in Philadelphia, Kabul

Fri May 14, 2010 1:11pm EDT
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By Jon Hurdle

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters Life!) - Photographs by high school students in Philadelphia and Kabul, Afghanistan will be displayed in exhibits opening in both cities on Friday in a project designed to bring together two very different cultures.

Twenty-one students collaborated in the project to depict everyday life in their cities and to find the common ground in experiences such as work and play and to dispel misconceptions about each other's societies.

At the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, dozens of photographs are displayed in pairs that illustrate comparisons between the views of the world discovered by the teenagers.

A picture of an Afghan boy carrying a metal plate of donuts on his head is paired with a shot of a Dunkin Donuts store in downtown Philadelphia, while a dramatic shot of Kabul street vendors stirring steaming pots of food is matched with a view of a typical American suburban kitchen.

On a more somber note, a woman covered in a blue burka is pictured hunched over a brick platform in what looks like an attitude of grief. Its counterpart shows an African American woman covering her face with her hands.

But the 10 students from Marefat High School in Kabul did not dwell on the conflict and destruction that has ravaged their country for decades, and where U.S. forces continue to fight Muslim militants.

The Afghan students' photos offered the Americas students a fresh perspective on a country commonly depicted by the western media as war-torn and corrupt.

"I got to throw away all the stereotypes and all the feelings I had, especially about the Middle East," said Ian McShea, 17, one of the 11 students from Philadelphia's Constitution High School. "It's important for our generation to communicate on a global scale."   Continued...