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A Googler tells us how the world can show up for Afghans

In the early 1980s, Shahla Naimi’s mother arrived at a United States air force base in California as a refugee from Afghanistan. Weary from her journey, she was met by a group of volunteers who welcomed her to her new home. So began her new life in the United States.40 years later, Shahla – a…

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In the early 1980s, Shahla Naimi’s mother arrived at a United States air force base in California as a refugee from Afghanistan. Weary from her journey, she was met by a group of volunteers who welcomed her to her new home. So began her new life in the United States.

40 years later, Shahla – a Senior Program Manager at Google – found herself at a government facility in New Jersey where she partnered with the International Rescue Committee to welcome 9,000 Afghans who’d fled the recent Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.

“I didn’t realize how many times my heart could break,” says Shahla. “​​It was the most emotionally and physically exhausting experience I’ve ever had – and perhaps the most rewarding one as well. As an Afghan and as an American, it pushed me in unexpected ways to see my own people so newly displaced from their homes.”

We recently took some time to ask Shahla about her work with the IRC.

What are your ties with Afghanistan?

I am Afghan! I grew up in south L.A. in the wake of 9/11, fairly isolated from the broader Afghan-American community but surrounded by fellow immigrants from all over the world.

I traveled to Afghanistan for the first time in 2011, when my uncle encouraged me to visit him in Kabul. Walking around the city, I saw my parent’s faces everywhere I went. Similar features, same classic Afghan expressions. Afghans from the diaspora occupy a complicated space in Afghanistan, and I was grateful to feel so welcomed.

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Step into the Meroë pyramids with Google

When you think of pyramids does your mind wander to the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt or the Mayan Temples of Guatemala? Great civilizations built each of these pyramids and inscribed their stories onto the walls of them, offering glimpses into their daily life.The Pyramids of Meroë in Sudan, while lesser known, are no different.…

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When you think of pyramids does your mind wander to the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt or the Mayan Temples of Guatemala? Great civilizations built each of these pyramids and inscribed their stories onto the walls of them, offering glimpses into their daily life.

The Pyramids of Meroë in Sudan, while lesser known, are no different. Today, you can explore these stunning pyramids, which are a UNESCO World Heritage site, on Google Arts & Culture.

Over 200 pyramids were constructed in Meroë, the third and final capital of the Kushite Kingdom, an ancient African civilization that ruled the lands of Nubia for over 3000 years. Now you can take a virtual walk through the Pyramids of Meroë and explore the inscriptions using Street View’s panoramic imagery. You can also learn more about the Kushite Kingdom, their royalty and the architecture behind the pyramids in an immersive web experience that’s available in a range of languages including Arabic, English, French, German and Spanish.

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Bay View is open — the first campus built by Google

Taking green building to a new scaleTo deliver on our commitment to operate every hour of every day on carbon-free energy by 2030, we prioritized renewable energy and maximized the solar potential of our buildings. Bay View’s first-of-its-kind dragonscale solar skin and nearby wind farms will power it on carbon-free energy 90% of the time.The…

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Taking green building to a new scale

To deliver on our commitment to operate every hour of every day on carbon-free energy by 2030, we prioritized renewable energy and maximized the solar potential of our buildings. Bay View’s first-of-its-kind dragonscale solar skin and nearby wind farms will power it on carbon-free energy 90% of the time.

The campus is also on track to be the largest project certified by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) under any of their programs, at any certification level. As part of ILFI’s Living Building Challenge, we’re targeting a Water Petal certification, meaning the site is net-positive with all non-potable water demands being met using the recycled water generated on site. Above-ground ponds that gather rainwater year round and a building wastewater treatment system serve as water sources for cooling towers, flushing toilets and irrigating the landscape. This is a big step toward delivering on our commitment to replenish 120% of the water we consume by 2030.

It doesn’t stop there. Bay View is an example of an all-electric campus and shows what’s possible in regenerative building. Here’s how:

  • The two kitchens that serve seven cafes are equipped with electric equipment rather than gas — a template for fully carbon-free cafes and kitchens.
  • There are 17.3 acres of high-value natural areas — including wet meadows, woodlands and a marsh — that are designed to reestablish native landscapes and rehabilitate Bay Area wetlands. Something that’s especially important as Bay View sits close to the San Francisco Bay.
  • The water retention ponds not only collect water for reuse, but also provide nature restoration, sea level rise protection, and access to the beauty of natural wetlands. New willow groves along the stormwater ponds provide resources for wildlife.
  • The integrated geothermal pile system will help heat and cool the campus. The massive geoexchange field is integrated into the structural system, reducing the amount of water typically used for cooling by 90% — that’s equal to five million gallons of water annually.

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Seniors search what they see, using a new Lens

“Often, when I go for a walk, I stumble upon an unknown flower or a tree. Now I can just take a picture to discover what kind of plant I am standing before,” Verner Madsen, one of the participants, remarked. “I don’t need to bring my encyclopedia. It is really smart and helpful.”Seniors in a…

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“Often, when I go for a walk, I stumble upon an unknown flower or a tree. Now I can just take a picture to discover what kind of plant I am standing before,” Verner Madsen, one of the participants, remarked. “I don’t need to bring my encyclopedia. It is really smart and helpful.”

Seniors in a country like Denmark are generally very tech savvy, but with digitization constantly advancing — accelerating even faster during two years of COVID-19 — some seniors risk being left behind, creating gaps between generations. During worldwide lockdowns, technological tools have helped seniors stay connected with their family and friends, and smartphone features have helped improve everyday life. One key element of that is delivering accurate and useful information when needed. And for that, typed words on a smartphone keyboard can often be substituted with a visual search, using a single tap on the screen.

Being able to “search what you see” in this way was an eye-opener to many. As the day ended, another avid participant, Henrik Rasmussen, declared he was heading straight home to continue his practice.

“I thought I was up to speed on digital developments, but after today I realize that I still have a lot to learn and discover,” he said.

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