Afghanistan to America: Two Cultures, Two Generations of Arcadia Alumni

By Purnell T. Cropper | May 24, 2011

At her home in New York, Tyler Tragle Jenner ’69 spreads dozens of photo albums of Afghanistan out on the kitchen table. Flipping through the images with her is a young man who calls her “Mom.” Inside are pictures of the people who became her family and the places that became her home in 1972.

Jenner was a social worker in the maternal-child health clinic at Hahnemann Hospital when she was inspired to join the Peace Corps and serve in Afghanistan. Her steadfast love for the people of that country led her to M. Eshaaq Mohtasebzadah ’11, who is soon to become a fellow alum of Arcadia.

“My fondest memory is of the Afghan people,” Jenner says as she describes her 27-month assignment and the clinicians and aid workers who became her friends. “We were family to them, and they became family to us.” Jenner was completely immersed in another culture—dress, behavior, gender role, social ‘rules of the road’—in order to transcend being merely a tourist. The warmth and generous hospitality of the Afghan people has stayed with her. Jenner maintains connections through Friends of Afghanistan and Peace Corps reunions.