Recent UR Grad Receives Projects for Peace Award For Podcast Project Focused on Afghan Refugees and Immigrants

September 15, 2021

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Lina Tori Jan, a 2020 University of Richmond graduate from Kabul, Afghanistan, received a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant to support a series of podcasts showcasing the stories of refugees and immigrants from Afghanistan.

Projects for Peace is an initiative supporting college students on grassroots projects that are designed to build peace.

Tori Jan is the founder of Chai wa Dastan (Tea and Tale), an initiative aimed at sharing stories and lessons of empowerment, resilience, and leadership through the revitalization of the oral tradition of storytelling. The initiative features three projects, including:

  • The CwD Podcast, which focuses on stories of Afghan women.
  • The Young Readers series, a collection of children’s stories narrated in Dari, designed to support language development for Afghan children.
  • The Long Story Short, a podcast which focuses on civic leadership.

Tori Jan’s initiative has become more timely in recent weeks, with the humanitarian emergency that has unfolded in Afghanistan. Over fourteen days in August, Tori Jan and the Chai wa Dastan team worked around the clock to help eight of her family members escape Kabul, including her young niece and nephew who serve as readers for the Young Readers Series.

“This experience has underscored the critical importance of raising women’s voices and building awareness of the many systemic barriers immigrants and refugees face on a daily basis,” Tori Jan said.

“To my knowledge, The CwD Podcast is the first to focus specifically on Afghan ladies and their stories,” Tori Jan added. “These women are often overlooked by society, and I wanted to provide a platform for them to not only share their stories and culture with a wide audience but to connect with one other, know they are not alone, and find a sense of community.

Tori Jan and her team, which includes her sister Zohra as the co-host, have interviewed Afghan women living all over the world. Tori Jan said  the podcast approach provides an easily accessible format to reach a wide audience.

“They can listen while they are driving, while they are washing dishes, whenever convenient,” said Tori Jan. “We are drawing on and inspired by the rich Afghan tradition of oral storytelling where every night families come together around a pot of tea to tell stories.”

Tori Jan says more than 500 people from 25 countries have listened to the podcasts so far, and she hopes to turn her project into a nonprofit organization.