August 25, 2021

Longy School of Music of Bard College—and our Asian Student Alliance—stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan.

Even if you have paid close attention to the news coming out of Afghanistan, you might not be aware of one facet of the tragedy that hits close to home in the Longy community. When the Taliban was in power in the late ’90s, they banned arts of all kinds — making music a crime. The same will doubtless occur once again as they return to power. The Taliban are already breaking and burning any instruments that they find and, in a desperate attempt to stay safe, musicians are getting rid of their instruments to avoid persecution.

One Longy student has experienced this oppression first-hand in Afghanistan, and shared this statement with our community:

This conflict is so much more than just an attack on art: it’s about freedom, about love, about basic human rights and about righteousness. In my country, musicians are like warriors — our instruments are our weapons, and our music is our freedom. If we are silenced as musicians, we will be silenced as a people and left without our rights. We will lose our means of expression and of processing our trauma.

We must continue to believe in the power of music.

Longy supports members of its community who come from war-torn places, through our emergency relief fund, scholarship opportunities, and production assistance for creative response projects. In preparing musicians to make a difference in the world, we seek to empower them to use their artistry to call out and respond to injustice like that which we see in Afghanistan.

Musicians and artists, regardless of their backgrounds and beliefs, their race, gender, or their religion, should use their voices to speak up for those who are being silenced. Even small actions of solidarity help raise awareness — whether that’s direct political action, a social media post, a donation to an aid group, or offering personal support to those affected by the tragedy. We urge our community to find ways to support Afghan citizens in the most meaningful way they can.

Here are ways we can help right now:

Support Afghan Cellist, Meena, get to Interlochen:

Meena Ramiki, a student at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, has recently been accepted to Interlochen, a prestigious performing fine arts high school in Michigan, for the upcoming fall semester. Her teacher, New England Conservatory alumna Robin Ryczek, is helping Meena raise funds so that she can get to the US and secure her student visa in time to start school this fall. This, as you know, is complicated right now BUT things are moving forward. Robin and many others are working hard to ensure that Meena and her classmates are being supported and kept safe.
Here is the fundraising link:

Call your congressional reps:

  1. Urge them to insist that we work to secure the airport road so that people can get there safely. This is a major problem for anyone trying to leave Afghanistan. If people can’t get to the airport, they can’t leave. If people are afraid to go to the airport, efforts to apply for visas are no good.
  2. And/or ask that they support DOD Humanitarian Parole. This would allow large groups of people to come in (like a plane-full, or a school-full) and get their visas processed after they get here. The US has done this before. Here is suggested language recommended by an immigration attorney.

Dear Rep. xxx,
I am writing to urge you to push hard to grant Afghan people indefinite humanitarian parole. This matter is most urgent. We need to save not just our translators and other Afghans who assisted the US during the war. We must save the people teaching girls, women judges, girls seeking an education. All are vulnerable to being murdered by the Taliban. The US government has the power to do this but has not yet done so. I urge you to advocate for waiving the visa requirement and extending indefinite humanitarian parole to these most vulnerable people.

Please adapt this letter to reflect your own background and experiences.

Fundraising and Volunteering:

  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is asking for volunteers to help refugees upon arrival with airport pickups, meal assistance, mentorship, tutoring, and more. You can participate if you’re in one of the areas where refugees are arriving, and there’s a standby listto join for other areas too. You can also donate.
  • Women for Women International says a “generous member of our community” will match up to $500,000 in donations for its Afghanistan program.
  • Here is a website that provides some great vetted info:
  • Some things to keep in mind:
    This is the beginning of a long process and a long period of needed support. If you are interested, please consider supporting some of the aid organizations mentioned below, whether financially or by donating your time. As the situation continues to unfold, new needs will arise, like supporting the rights and efforts of those who stay in Afghanistan, or supporting specific groups of refugees such as artists or family members who have been separated from each other. As such, this list is not intended to be final, and it will be important to be aware of new initiatives in the future.
  • Security: It is important to share info about specific groups of people or individuals trying to get out of Afghanistan carefully and discreetly; app, text, and email communications may not be secure.

Additional ways to support:

The Longy School of Music is situated upon the traditional lands of the Massachusett people, alongside those of the Wampanoag, Narragansett, and Pawtucket nations. The arrival of European colonists in the 16th and 17th centuries brought colonization, genocide, and disease to these lands. We acknowledge this history and commit to fostering a future of visibility and equity in our work.