Midlanders offer strong support for Afghanistan




The University of Nebraska at Omaha is bringing more Afghan teachers and scholars to the United States.


Thomas Gouttierre, director of UNO’s Center for Afghanistan Studies, will spend most of October in Kabul interviewing candidates to become the first Fulbright Scholars from Afghanistan in 24 years.


UNO, which won the State Department contract for running the Fulbright Program in Afghanistan, recently tested about 120 candidates. The Fulbright Program in Washington will assign as many as 40 Afghan scholarship winners to universities in the United States for six months to a year of study.


UNO also is making plans to bring three groups of Afghan female teachers to Nebraska, continuing an educational and cultural exchange program started last year.


The next group of about a dozen teachers is scheduled to arrive Nov. 1. Two more groups will come next year.


The 13 teachers who visited last year in the first exchange are working in training back in Afghanistan, most of them in Kabul.


UNO’s Raheem Yaseer met with the teachers in an August trip to Afghanistan. “They were happy and proud because they were using some of the techniques they learned here and the materials they brought back with them,” Yaseer said.


Each of the teachers works with 10 teachers in her school, training them in techniques learned during their visit to UNO and schools in Omaha, Scottsbluff, Neb., and Oakland, Neb. Some of the teachers have been promoted to principals.


Midlands supporters donated $9,000 for the teachers’ schools. Yaseer delivered that money to Kabul, and the teachers are drafting lists of items their schools need.


UNO’s first program under the new Afghan government was the printing of textbooks and teaching materials and the training of teachers for the start of school in March 2002. The university’s one-year contract was not renewed, but UNO is continuing the work using money left in the original grant.


UNO’s programs are not the only local efforts to help in Afghanistan’s reconstruction.


Dr. Ward Chambers, Sheila Ryan and Nizar Mamdani from the University of Nebraska Medical Center are in Karachi, Pakistan, this weekend to discuss how UNMC can help the Kabul University medical school.


While international relief agencies have made strides in providing health care to Afghans, Chambers said, “There hasn’t been a concerted effort yet to help the education system in the health sciences.”


Humanity International for Peace and Prosperity, based in Omaha and headed by Afghan native Tajuddin Millatmal, is sponsoring a class for 35 girls and women in the village of Shullana, near Jalalabad, Millatmal said. The class teaches reading and writing.


In addition, Millatmal said, his nonprofit organization sent two Creighton University students to Afghanistan with him in December to deliver six computers, a printer and a television and videocassette recorder to Nangarhar University in Jalalabad.

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