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Afghan Author Qais Akbar Omar Shares Stories of a Shifting Culture
November 22, 2013
As part of Bentley’s Annual Culture Fest, Qais Akbar Omar, 30, a Boston University graduate student and author of “A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story,” addressed the community about how he came to write a memoir recounting his coming of age among unimaginable violence.
“Afghanistan will see peace but it will take time,” said Robert McNulty, director of Programs at the Center for Business Ethics and founder of Applied Ethics and the Pax Populi initiative, who introduced Omar. “It is not just about ending war, it is about finding a way to create peace.”
Omar talked of life as a young boy in Afghanistan sharing memories of his father’s honorable reputation, traveling for safety, and the unfound woman who taught him to make carpets as a child. He compared images of his neighborhood as it was before violence took over Afghanistan. Not only did he see the physical Afghan landscape change drastically, but Omar also shared the cultural changes that have completely altered the way Afghans live. Yet, he remains hopeful.
Omar remembered his childhood in Afghanistan, and how he taught himself English by reading instruction manuals, books, and watching American films. He spoke of his love for English and how he later began his memoir, which helped him channel the pain of his past. In his first sitting, Omar says he wrote 20 pages from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. “I did not stop writing. I just wrote. Sometimes crying, sometimes laughing, I forgot about night and day.” Omar soon found his book had skyrocketed to success, selling to international publishers and translated into 20 different languages.
After an hour of empowering and lighthearted stories, one member of the community asked if Omar will ever go back to Afghanistan. Omar responded that though America has granted him many opportunities, Afghanistan will always be his home. His plans are to return when there is peace. His final message to the Bentley community, “I hope one day we have peace. So you can come and I can go. And we can all have Kabob.”