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US Students Empowered by ‘Kite Runner’ Movie

Hollywood's much-anticipated film "The Kite Runner" hit cinema screens across the United States last month. Based on the 2004 novel by Afghan-American author Khaled Husseini, the film follows the tumultuous journey of a young Afghan boy from war-torn Afghanistan to the United States and back again.

Critics are calling "The Kite Runner" a film of redemption. But for a group of young students in the United States it has also served as a call to action. For producer George Dwyer, Kristal Knight reports.

The film version of "The Kite Runner" was intended to have a powerful effect on viewers…and it has.

"I think it hit us all pretty hard,” says Katy Gathright. “We were pretty emotional in the theater together, so afterwards, that is, when we kind of had it in our brains that we wanted to help."

Katy is a student at the Holton-Arms secondary school in suburban Washington. She and other students here recently attended a special viewing of "The Kite Runner." Among them, Katy's schoolmate, Lauren McDonald.

"It was definitely a very emotional and very powerful movie so we wanted to do something as soon as we could after seeing it because everyone would be very motivate to help," Lauren tells us.

What they did was rally their classmates to raise $500 to plant trees in Afghanistan.

"There is a line in the movie,” explains Katy, “where the boy comes back to Afghanistan and he remarks on how there are not any trees left."

Once considered "the orchard of Central Asia," Afghanistan has lost about three quarters of its fruit trees and vineyards in the past 25 years. Forests now cover less than one percent of the land here. And environmentalists worry that continued deforestation could spell the end for Afghanistan's few remaining forests – unless, that is, people take action.

"I just typed 'tree planting in Afghanistan' into a Google search and the first thing that came up was the Global Partnership for Afghanistan, and they have a goal by 2008 to plant a million and a half trees," explained Lauren.

Bill Paul teaches environmental science at Holton-Arms, and is academic sponsor of the school's environmental club. He says students here are not only globally aware, but also committed to helping solve the world's problems.

"Lauren and Katy have been co-presidents of the environmental club for the past three years and they have been involved in a variety of initiatives to sort of spread awareness to the community," said Paul.

And at this school, at least, students are taught that the community they belong to includes everyone from nearby neighbors to the people of Afghanistan.