ASU receives award for Afghan Women's Education Project

NAFSA association honors ASU with Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for Outstanding Campus Internationalization


A woman in a headscarf films a speaker on her phone

Photo by Samantha Chow/ASU

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NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange, has honored Arizona State University with the 2023 Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for Campus Internationalization for the university's Afghan Women's Education Project.

Named after the late Senator Paul Simon of Illinois, the annual NAFSA Simon awards celebrate outstanding innovation in campus internationalization, which is defined by the organization as “a conscious effort to integrate and infuse international, intercultural and global dimensions into the ethos and outcomes of their students' education.”  

ASU is listed as the only Hispanic-Serving Institution among the seven institutions recognized for campus internationalization.

The Afghan Women's Education Project was spearheaded by Pamela DeLargy, a professor of practice in the School of Politics and Global Studies and a senior global futures scholar. DeLargy and her team work to bring higher education to camp-based and urban refugees in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Uganda and Ethiopia.

ASU is working hard to do right by American Indians, by veterans, by first-generation students, by so many who have not had the chance for higher education in the past. Refugees are another group who are terribly marginalized and who deserve those chances,” DeLargy said. 

Last spring she helped bring 64 Afghan women to ASU, and their arrival was the result of a massive coordination of effort and donations led by DeLargy, who also serves as executive director of Education for Humanity at ASU.

“It has involved collaboration with so many across ASU and in the wider community. The Simon Award is a very welcome recognition of how ASU is being true to its mission — to  make higher education accessible to all, and especially to those previously marginalized,” she said.

The project was also recognized during ASU’s annual President’s Award for Global Engagement ceremony, where DeLargy was introduced by Nasiba Hakimi, one of the women who sought refuge in Arizona and began attending ASU last spring.

Hakimi said that DeLargy, who she calls “Miss Pam,” is an inspiration for giving back.

“I came from a different background, and I was not able to see women of different ages in the workplace and educational sectors,” Hakimi said. “She motivates me to not only wish for it but to study good things and serve women that do not have the opportunity to receive an education.” 

Hakimi added, “Dr. Pam is so patient, kind and supportive. I believe ASU is a very big community and very diverse. Education is the key to a successful society, and ASU can welcome refugees from different parts of the world and provide free education for them.” 

NAFSA serves the needs of more than 10,000 members and international educators worldwide at more than 3,500 institutions, in more than 160 countries. Institutions selected for the Simon Awards will be featured in NAFSA's report, Internationalizing the Campus: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities, to be published this fall, and honored during NAFSA's 2023 Annual Conference and Expo this spring.

Top photo: An Afghan student takes photos of Professor of Practice Pamela DeLargy during a reception that welcomed more than 60 Afghan refugees to ASU in December 2021. Photo by Samantha Chow/ASU News

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