8 Jan 2008

PR# 2008-011

Future Afghan leaders ask PRT tough questions

KHOST, Afghanistan - Khost University political science students in Afghanistan asked candid questions of visitors in a seminar recently.

For the past six months, Cmdr. Dave Adams, Khost Provincial Reconstruction Team Commander, and Department of State Rep. Kael Weston, have been interacting with university students.

Commander Adams and Representative Weston recently presented 53 Afghan students with graduation certificates for their weekly political issues seminar.

When the seminar kicked off last July, less than one quarter of the students had spoken to an American. Today, the friendships and understanding between the two groups are evident as Americans and Afghans hugged and congratulated each other.

Khost University Chancellor Gul Hassan Wali Zai explained how simply talking together in an outdoor pavilion helped to break down the barriers between the cultures.

The seminar was beneficial for both parties, according to Ziaullah Safi, Khost University student. “For the students, it helped with their knowledge of the world. For the Americans, it informed them about Afghan culture."

Building greater unity one student at a time was the point of the seminar, the representative explained.

"These students came from 20 provinces and offered frank views. Officials tell you official things; students tell you what is on their minds," said Mr. Weston. "So it is just as important to engage the 'average omars' who will lead Afghanistan into the future. It is this group, after all, [who] will determine how long we remain guests here."

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/