Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My first day of school

After several false starts and incidents that would make Amazing Race look like a walk in the park, we finally made it to Mazar-e-Sharif today. Our time in Kabul was an eye-opener! It was eventful, educational and a huge reality check. I won't go into details now - electrical power and the internet are unreliable at best and I have more important news to share. I will say that traveling with Julie is a hoot - she is a perpetual motion machine. Remind me to tell you the popcorn story when I see you. Our duo is now a trio, with Ken Kierstead from Fluid Foundation having joined us yesterday. Ken is a great traveling buddy and is already adding richness to our journey.

Today we visited two schools. (All schools will remain anonymous in this blog) Goodness gracious - what a delight to see the smiling, eager faces of children desperately wanting to learn and realize the grandest of dreams. If ever there was any doubt as to why this work is important it was erased in a heartbeat. The first school we visited was built two years ago and has about 4,100 students attending in three shifts - two shifts for girls and one for boys. These two girls gave me a warm welcome (salam aleykam!) and patiently helped me sign in by telling me which columns (labeled in Dari) were for my name, province, date, etc..

Although the school is far from the US norm, the principals, teachers and children are all intent on making it the best it can be. What was especially striking was the eagerness of the children to 'show off' what they knew. One favorite moment was when a seventh grade girl literally jumped at the chance to show her knowledge in geography class. Her hand shot into the air, then she jumped on a desk and pointed to the United States. Later, when Julie asked the class what they wanted to do when they graduated, this same girl quickly said "Journalist!"

The last thing we did before leaving this school was visit the one - and only, kindergarten class. This was my favorite part of the day. We handed out little stuffed animals to each child - and the smiles were priceless. With nearly 50% of the Afghanistan population under the age of 15 and an average life expectancy of 44, it's a shame to know that only the tiniest fraction get any early childhood education. After all - Afghanistan is like countries everywhere - its children are its future.

I have much more to report from the second school we visited, however, as is often the case, the power has gone out and I must wait until tomorrow. Take care and good night.


  1. I can't wait to hear more of the story. I know you have to be exhausted so thank you for taking the time to share your story. The children are beautiful.

  2. Thanks for the wonderful update, Preston! I look forward to reading more. Be safe.