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Page last updated at 10:25 GMT, Monday, 8 March 2010

Risking life to go to school

School Reporters in Bristol had what one of them described as a life-changing conversation with fellow students in Kabul. BBC South West producer Sarah Ransome observed the radio link-up and, here, describes her impressions of the exchange.

Students from Winterbourne Academy in Bristol at the BBC radio studio
The Bristol students admitted they had not known much about life in Kabul

Six students from Winterbourne International Academy in Bristol had a rare opportunity to chat to other students hundreds of miles away, the Afghan capital Kabul. They took the chance to find out what it is really like to live in a country in conflict.

First there were some light-hearted questions.

Emily, from Bristol, asked what kind of music and films were popular with students in Kabul. The young journalists were surprised to learn Britney Spears was also a hit in Kabul and that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were high in the film star stakes. Eleanor discovered there were no clubs at school in Kabul, though they had many in Bristol.

As the 12 students got to know each other, the conversation became more serious.

Callum explained how he grumbled in the mornings about getting up and going to school.

Hawaa, from Kabul, described how, when she leaves her house in the morning for school, she's never sure if she'll see her parents again - or even if she'll make it home or not - because of the many bombings, kidnappings and shootings in Afghanistan.

Everyone's eyes in the studio widened while Hawaa was talking, not quite believing what they were hearing.

Subdued and thoughtful

Then Ramzia, also from Kabul, wondered if anyone, sitting in the safety of the Bristol studio, had ever heard the sound of bullets. In the quietness that followed, Habibullah described how he had seen someone shot and die in front of him.

Having learned about the danger they faced just to get to lessons, Emily decided she would never moan again about homework or having to get up to go to school

As the children in Kabul shared their experiences, the atmosphere in the studio changed. The School Reporters from Bristol listened carefully to the harsh realities of every day life in Afghanistan - a life so different to the one they know.

They freely admitted they knew very little about what was going on and hadn't previously thought much about what it was like to live there. Dom said he had no idea how difficult things were. He asked why they would risk their lives just to go to school.

Speaking from Kabul, Hawaa replied that it was because she felt it was important to have an education. Hawaa and Yasin said they had to try and get the best education they could, so that they could help their country in the future.

I could see how moved all six Bristol students were at the determination and enthusiasm of the children in Kabul to seize any opportunity they could to go to school.

As we came to the end of our time together, a subdued and thoughtful group paid tribute to the young people in Kabul.

Callum found the students from Kabul inspiring and praised them on their ability to cope, admitting he wasn't sure he'd be able to do the same. Dom didn't think he'd want to risk dying just to get to lessons and Kavita, Morgan and Eleanor discussed the bravery of young people in Kabul living in such a dangerous place.

Finally, Emily explained to everyone that talking to the students in Kabul had been a "life-changing" experience.

Having learned about the danger they faced just to get to lessons, Emily decided she would never moan again about homework or having to get up to go to school.


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