Saint Louis University

With an urban campus in the heart of St. Louis, Saint Louis University strives to bring the cultures, concerns and complexities of the entire world to its community of students, faculty, staff, alumni and area neighbors. Welcoming nearly 1,000 international students from more than 70 countries around the world, the University has rich tradition of global diversity.

Shabana Basij-Rasikh is the co-founder and president of the School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA). File photo
Basij-Rasikh was born and raised in Kabul and finished high school in the U.S. through the State Department's Youth Exchange Studies program. File photo

Part of that tradition includes the annual Sam and Marilyn Fox Atlas Week. Established in 2001 and named for prominent St. Louisians, Atlas Week is packed with lectures, forums, film showings and other engaging activities to spotlight the international dimension of SLU's academic programs and to celebrate the University's role in international education.

The 14th annual Atlas Week Program, themed "Education: Igniting the Flames of Change," will be March 31 through April 4.

Atlas Week Keynote Address

As part of the annual celebration, the University invites a recognized member of the global community to deliver the Atlas Week Keynote Address. This year's keynote speaker is Shabana Basij-Rasikh, co-founder and president of SOLA (School of Leadership, Afghanistan), a nonprofit that helps exceptional young Afghan women access education worldwide and jobs back home. SOLA is also the first, and perhaps the only, girls' boarding school in Afghanistan.

Basij-Rasikh co-founded SOLA in 2008 with four students. Today, 23 girls and two boys, ages 11 to 22, represent all major ethnic groups, religious sects and tribes, and half of Afghan provinces in SOLA's preparatory program in Kabul. SOLA scholars attend boarding schools, colleges and graduate programs in the United States and around the world.

Concert and More Atlas Week Activities

Junoon band members, from left, are Brian O'Connell, Ali Azmat and Salman Ahmad. Photo courtesy Junoon
Junoon band members, from left, are Brian O'Connell, Ali Azmat and Salman Ahmad. Photo courtesy Junoon

The 2014 celebration will also include a concert featuring Junoon, Pakistan's biggest rock band, at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 4, in the Wool Ballroom in Busch Student Center. Junoon was founded in 1990, and popularized a blend of Western rock music and Eastern Islamic music that has been called "Sufi rock." Junoon has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide.

Also new this year is the event's "Coffee and Conversations" series, at which speakers and activists will participate in small, informal conversations about global citizenship. Participants in this inaugural event include Basij-Rasikh and University community members with expertise in global issues.

A highlight of the weeklong celebration is the Parade of Nations and the Billiken World Festival. Students come together each year to march down the center of the St. Louis campus, waving flags representing the international diversity of the University community. Immediately after, all are invited to take part in the festival which features live cultural music and dance, academic and informational booths, carnival games and international cuisine.

A Saint Louis University education may begin in St. Louis, but SLU students take what they learn and serve the globe. Each year, the Atlas Week Program brings together members of the University community to focus on the global challenges that confront us in the 21st century. Find out more about this year's program on the Atlas Week website.