Thursday, October 14, 2010

Education is Peace...and You are our Grand Teacher!

Students at my University.
School girls walking through the hill-houses in Kabul. In the distance is a large cemetery.

It was a grain of sand in a mountainous dune, a drop of water in an ocean of pleasantries. But it was more than enough to satisfy my curiosity and quell my frustration.

During my second meeting with the Chancellor of my University, after hours of small talk and a truck load of raisins, chick peas, and tongue-scorching tea, I thought we would never talk about education. My prediction was that it would probably take ten of these meetings to begin talking about the business of educating teachers; of building training programs and developing the Master's of Teaching program at the University so that future generations of teachers could have access to higher education on their own soil. Frustrated, I thought that my time here may be over before I had the confidence of the Chancellor to go ahead with my project. Regardless of my fear, I was enjoying the chit chat when, ever so suddenly, the chancellor took in a labored breath and said the following:

"Peace depends on this University. With education, there is no war. The enemy knows this; they burn schools and kill teachers to take the foundations of peace away. But here we build our future everyday. Piece by piece we are re-building our nation from the ground up. Each teacher that works here knows this; each student who passes through these doors knows this. Peace depends on this University. We welcome you and hope you also realize this."

Suddenly my concerns didn't seem so urgent.

The remainder of our conversation was one of the best I have had since arriving in Afghanistan. We talked about how important education is in nation-building, and why this Teacher's College in particular was so important in this task. We discussed how educating women was the most important piece of this puzzle, because they would raise the future leaders, scholars, and politicians. At the Teacher's College, we were in the business of turning out the people who would teach the new generation how to be good people. Although most of our talk was lofty and wishful, it seemed to me that the Chancellor's heart was in the right place and that I had his blessing to go forth and teach. I was in good company. Thank Allah.

Our meeting ended because I had to go to introduce a guest from the United States (the English Language Specialist (ELS), a visiting scholar from University of Southern California who will conduct teacher-training workshops this week) to my students.

When we arrived at my class my students were off-the-wall excited to be meeting another American. I introduced the ELS as one of my teachers (for simplicity's sake). Immediately, a boy in my class raised his hand to speak. He said, rather enthusiastically to the guest, "So you are our grand teacher!"

I love Afghanistan.

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At 12:57 PM , Blogger Michael Lindsay said...


Keep up the good work. And keep your head down! Can you email me? I don't have your address here at work and need to send you a few professional questions.

At 7:02 AM , Blogger Kat Buckly said...

You are going to make a world of difference over there. Love ya!

At 11:45 AM , Blogger DrRona said...

my heart melted about your conversation.
how very cool.
i am glad u r able to be there and help facilitate peace.
educate away!


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