From the classroom to Afghanistan

After a whirlwind undergraduate experience including an eye-opening trip to Afghanistan and the presidency of the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS), graduating History student Brian Platt is now ready for some real excitement.

One of Platt’s first initiatives on campus was to start a Canada-Afghanistan club, which raises awareness about issues surrounding education and development in Afghanistan through articles on its website and speaker sessions.

“Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan is such a major foreign policy commitment,” says Platt, 25. “I’m especially interested when countries are going through a struggle from dictatorship to democracy, and I want to do what I can do to help that process.”

In 2010, after raising money from organizations that published his articles, Platt spent two weeks travelling around Afghanistan, visiting schools and meeting people. His blog during his trip garnered over 2,000 page views each day, and he continues to write about his experiences for the Ubyssey.

“My articles have received quite a bit of feedback from people on campus,” says Platt, a native of Neepawa, Manitoba. “University’s a place where you can debate global issues, and it’s great to be able to play a role in advancing that discussion here at UBC.”

Platt joined the History Students’ Association (HSA) in 2009 and became VP Finance, which ultimately led to his successful run for AUS President.

The AUS represents nearly 12,000 students in Arts, the largest faculty on campus. Under Platt’s leadership, the group pioneered the AUS Arts Conference and organized concerts and educational and social events.

Platt calls his journey at UBC “a bit of a fluke.”

“I’m grateful to have run into my friends as they were going to an HSA election that day, or I may never have gotten as involved. It’s weird to think about how different things might have been,” he says.

Looking back on his time here, Platt recalls his fondest memories.

“The best thing is when everyone gets together in one place, like at Block Party,” says Platt. “All the different groups, the different constituencies, the AMS, clubs, UBC REC, students in residences, the Greek system—finding a community and getting involved somehow. You never know where it may lead.”

Platt is considering a myriad of options for the future; however, if it’s anything like his past, he will certainly be one to watch.

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UBC Reports | Vol. 57 | No. 5 | May. 6, 2011

Art student leader Brian Platt spent two unforgettable weeks in Afghanistan. Eugene Lin Photograph.

Art student leader Brian Platt spent two unforgettable weeks in Afghanistan. Eugene Lin Photograph.

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“University’s a place where you can debate global issues, and it’s great to be able to play a role in advancing that discussion here at UBC.”

Learn more about the Faculty of Arts at: arts.ubc.ca

Read more about Platt’s trip to Afghanistan at: ubyssey.ca/Afghanistan

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