Julia Bolz is a women’s rights activist providing social guidance to countries in the Middle East, Africa, Central America, and Central Asia. She founded the Journey with an Afghan School program after 9/11 to help bridge the cultural divide between the U.S. and Afghanistan particularly by increasing the educational opportunities afforded to young women. Before joining the grassroots movement for gender equality, she worked at one of Seattle’s most prestigious law firms, Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland. She received Seattle’s Tom C. Wales Citizenship Award for her combined humanitarian efforts. Bolz graduated from Smith College.
Question: Why did 9/11 happen?
Julia Bolz: What I’ve been seeing is that when we first went in, they didn’t know who we were, what our interests were. But today if you go into the classes, there is a real interest in getting to know America. They like Americans. In fact I think many of them would like to come here. But what I’ve also seen is that many of the kids here in America are learning about another culture.
After 9/11, I was very much affected by protests that were held around the world. I remember one in particular. There was a sign held by a Pakistani protester, and it said: “Americans think. Why are you hated all over the world?”
Well that was something that really struck me. And having lived extensively in the developing world, I wasn’t necessarily surprised by what happened at 9/11. But I wanted to go into the communities and to teach people about poverty; what was causing terrorism; why would people be willing to become a martyr and do this?