Applicants for a special immigrant visa crowd into a Kabul internet cafe on August 8, 2021. Photo: Paula Bronstein / Getty
Last month, Bard College and the Open Society University Network sent out a call to Afghan graduates of American programs in Afghanistan and the region. Immediately 120 replies came back. “I had a student this summer who had to miss class because ‘the Taliban surrounded our town.’ She indicated to me her final paper would be late because a bomb blew up her house,” Jonathan Becker told the Atlantic
’s George Packer. “This is a tragedy of epic proportions.” After reading Honorable Exit
, Thurston Clarke’s account of efforts by individual Americans to save their Vietnamese allies before the fall of Saigon in 1975, Becker realized how little time was left. In recent days Bard and Open Society have appealed to universities in the region to host Afghan evacuees, and to foundations and board members to pay as much as $400,000 to charter flights out of Afghanistan. “In many cases we have institutions to host them. Colleges, universities, and funders are stepping up,” Becker said. “That is not a problem. The challenge is the time to get people out and get them visas into those countries.” Jonathan Becker is OSUN vice chancellor, executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs and director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Bard.