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Marathon Man: Empowering Women and Girls in Afghanistan through sport

On September 19 , I finished teaching my first course with “Classrooms Without Walls.”
Adventures of Marathon Martin and Friends Poster

On September 19, I finished teaching my first course with “Classrooms Without Walls” ( The Adventures of Marathon Martin and Friends was a 12 week course developed from my three books “Marathon Quest”, “Running to the Edge” and “The Secret Marathon: Empowering Women and Girls in Afghanistan through Sport”. 

The students were Afghan women and girls aged 17 to 30 who are living in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan. Each week I would share an adventure with them, and then we would have a question and answer session. At the end of a lesson, I would give the students take home questions as their assignment. Week after week, they would share their responses with me. These included stories of their lives under the Taliban, how they are fighting to improve their education, their hopes and dreams for themselves and Afghanistan. Many times I was moved to tears with their responses.

The final lesson was my workshop “Finish the Race Attitude: Set Goals, Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Outstanding Results”. This is a process they can use as they move forward in their lives. At the end of Lesson 12, I asked the students three questions to evaluate the course. I received many wonderful answers and I want to share one with you, from Mahbooba, which reflects the majority:

MM: What did you like about the course? And why?

“From my perspective as a participant in the Marathon Martin course, I thoroughly enjoyed the course for several reasons. Firstly, the interactive nature of the lessons, activities, and discussions kept me engaged and excited to learn. Secondly, the diverse range of adventures and obstacles faced by the characters added an element of unpredictability and suspense, making the storytelling even more captivating. Lastly, the emphasis on teamwork and collaboration encouraged a sense of friendship among classmates, creating a supportive learning environment. Overall, this course provided an exceptional experience that blended education with entertainment in a remarkable way.” 

MM: What would you change? And why?

“I want nothing to change. Everything was fabulous and wonderful. While the Marathon Martin course was overall enjoyable, I would recommend making a few changes to enhance the learning experience. Scheduling occasional guest speakers or experts in relevant fields could offer valuable insights and enrich the learning journey even further. These changes would further engage students and enrich their overall learning experience.” 

MM: What did you learn?

“In the exciting journey of Marathon Martin, I learned the value of resilience, the beauty of exploring various landscapes, and the significance of friendship. Each chapter taught me to never give up, appreciate the wonders of nature, and cherish the bonds forged with extraordinary people along the way.”

On November 2nd we will be having a Graduation Ceremony where a total of 34 Afghan Women and Girls will be receiving their certificates for “The Adventures of Marathon Martin and Friends”. With all the challenges these young Afghan women face in their daily lives this will be a day to celebrate.

© 2023 Martin Parnell

[email protected] 


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