Eggs for sale: Last year, a group of teenagers at Afghanistan's Marefat School were given cameras as part of a photography project with teens at Philadelphia's Constitution High School. The students snapped away, and what emerged from the Afghan side were images of culture, friends, and daily life -- not car bombings and kidnappings. Above, a smiling boy sells eggs at an outdoor market, as photographed by Qasim Moradi, 18.
Ready to read: Razia Rezayi, 19, captured a class of young girls volunteering to read. Some of the student photographers had never held a camera prior to this project, funded by a $105,000 grant from the American Association of Museums.
Getting focused: Young Afghans experiment with their cameras in this snapshot by Bismillah Alizada, 16. In an area on Kabul's outskirts inhabited mainly by minority Hazaras, the Marefat School was built by impoverished Afghans who wanted a better life for their children through education. It was founded by Aziz Royesh, a man whose own formal education was cut off when he fled Afghanistan in the 1980s during the Soviet occupation.
Hanging out: Boys play together in the above image snapped by Asad Baran, 18. The Afghan and American teens involved in the photography project spent months sharing photos online. In March, the Afghan teens visited the United States, where they met with their American counterparts, students from predominantly minority Constitution High School in Philadelphia.
Battleground to playground: Sayed Madadi, 18, caught this image of youths frolicking near derelict tanks. The Afghan and American teens met this spring at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, where they sorted through photos, creating pairs of similar images from Kabul and Philadelphia, such as an Afghan hand with henna designs juxtaposed with a tattooed American arm. An exhibit of the paired images, "We the People: Afghanistan, America, and the Minority Imprint," is on display through September at the National Constitution Center and the National Museum of Afghanistan.
Kite runner: A boy flies a kite in this photo by Asad Baran, 18. The teens' photography project was brought about by Jeffrey Stern, who spent two years in Afghanistan and today directs the Constitution Center's international engagement efforts. "It's easy to find the poverty," he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "It's a little harder to find the beauty, but if you look hard enough, you'll find that it's there."
All dressed up: A little girl is decked out in red and has her fingernails painted to celebrate the Muslim holiday Eid, in this photo taken by Nazifa Alizada, 16. When visiting the United States, Alizada told the Philadelphia Inquirer that she wanted people to see her country as beautiful, and not just a place of violence and conflict. "There is culture and friends and family," she explained.
Market wares: Qasim Moradi, 18, captured this image of bird cages hanging at a market stall. Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Trudy Rubin traveled to the Marefat School in April 2009 and found it "buzzing with activity." In the girls' building (Afghan law requires the school to segregate girls and boys), she visited a class of seniors who were discussing their demonstration against a draft law that would permit marital rape in the Shiite community. The young women had convinced their fathers to allow them to participate in the demonstration, something that previously would have been inconceivable.
Snow day: Two Afghan men carry umbrellas to shield themselves from the snow in this snapshot captured by Hadi Rahnaward, 24. Aziz Royesh, the founder of the Marefat School, designed a curriculum that includes not just the basics, but also civic responsibility and human rights, the latter a concept most of the students have never fully experienced.
Daily bread: Zainab Haidary, 19, caught this picture of an Afghan woman walking home with a bag of flatbread. One of the teens who visited Philadelphia this spring, Haidary told the Inquirer, "My grandmother prayed that I wouldn't go ... because I'd be a lonely girl in a kafir [infidel] city. I want to bring her another message ... and give my message about [the need for] change in Afghanistan."
Broken palace: A woman gazes at what's left of an old palace in this photo by Razia Rezayi, 19. The Marefat School's Royesh told the Inquirer that when he brought the Afghan students to the Constitution Center, they were intrigued by the story of the three Founding Fathers who refused to put their signature to the Constitution unless it had a Bill of Rights. He said he told the students, "[E]ven if you are a minority of three individuals, you can have an influence."
Funeral prayer: Men standing in rows pray at a funeral, in this photo by Sayed Madadi, 18.
In alignment: Hadi Rahnaward, 24, took this photo of Afghan men standing in perfect lines.
In mourning: A little Afghan boy wears a green headband during the Shiite mourning month of Muharram, in this photo by Nazifa Alizada, 16. In a news report by Philadelphia's CBS station, she said of the Afghan teens' visit to Philly, "I think it's a good opportunity for us to learn."