A school field trip turned into a nightmare as 24 California students and 16 parents found themselves trapped in Afghanistan. With roads leading to the airport, the Americans are racing against an August 31 deadline to get to the airport and catch the last few flights allowed by the Taliban.
California Students Trapped in Afghanistan
A family that’s part of the stranded contingent reached out earlier to Cajon school officials. On August 16, they requested that the district hold its spot at their local school.
At the time, the California students thought that leaving Afghanistan was as easy as going to the airport. According to Cajon Valley School Board President Tamara Otero, the students and their parents were ready to leave the country.
However, even as they booked their tickets, they could not get to the airport. Superintendent David Miyashiro notified the school board on Tuesday of the district’s efforts to help students and families.
In addition, they also coordinated with Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA). Miyashiro noted that the California students and parents were traveling with special US military visas.
Caught in the Exodus
Unfortunately, a series of events overtook their plans. A day earlier, Kabul and nearby areas fell to the Taliban. As a result, a wild exodus happened as thousands of foreigners headed to the airport to leave the country. Along with them were thousands of locals who fear for their lives if they stayed.
The California students hail from the Cajon Valley Union school district in California. Howard Shen, the spokesperson for the school district, confirmed the news.
“The Cajon Valley Union School District Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Office that supports a global community of families has been in direct contact with their families and students stranded in Afghanistan,” he said in a statement.
Refugee Community in El Cajon, California
The students and their families form part of a large refugee community in El Cajon, California. Reportedly, they went on a field trip to visit relatives living in Afghanistan. The Cajon Valley school district is home to a large community whose residents originated from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.
All students and their parents are refugees. Specifically, they hold a class of immigrant visas that make them allies to the State Department. In fact, all hold legal residence status in the US.
Some already managed to secure their US citizenship. The students attend several different schools within the district. Many families who resettled in El Cajon belong to nuclear families. They also have extended relatives remaining in their home countries.
California Students Have Their Tickets But Could Not Get To The Airport
In addition, Shen said that the students and their parents who went to Afghanistan did so to visit extended family in the area.
Once news of the Taliban takeover started, the American contingent reached out to their community liaisons for assistance. Mike Serban, director of the FACE office, gathered the names of Cajon Valley students who went to Afghanistan.
The FACE office also continued to coordinate with Rep. Issa’s office to help get the families back to the States. “The East County San Diego community and district staff continue to send positive thoughts and well wishes to all of our families as we await their safe return,” Shen said.
Meanwhile, Issa tweeted Wednesday that he is “working diligently to determine the best ways to help those trapped return home safely. I won’t stop until we have answers and action.”
Watch the CBS 8 San Diego video reporting that Students from Cajon Valley Union School District stranded in Afghanistan:
What do you think will happen to the California students and their parents trapped in Afghanistan? Do you think they can get out in time? Let us know what you think. Share your comments below.