Program highlights Afghan people and culture
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) exhibit, Windows and Mirrors, wraps up it’s visit to the Willamette Valley this month with a display of the murals at the Corvallis and Albany public libraries, and a program on March 16 focused on the Afghan people, their culture and their beautiful country.
Organizers displayed photography, music, videos, carpets, clothing and other artifacts reflecting life in Afghanistan. They even offered traditional snacks of dried fruit, nuts and “channa” (roasted chick peas). The hope was to demonstrate the life experiences we share with the Afghan people and to help foster empathy for their plight of deprivation and violence over the past many years.
The program began with an excellent look at life in Afghanistan. Nina Joy Lawrence, who worked in Afghanistan for several months in 2003, 2005 and 2006, shared about her experiences of being welcomed into an Afghan family, and cared for by one of the most hospitable cultures in the world. She was there working with Coordination of Humanitarian Aid, an Afghan aid organization first and then with American Friends Service Committee, supporting community resiliency and wellness by teaching Focusing. With the help of the internet, she does ongoing support work with the staff of PARSA, an NGO working directly with disadvantaged people of Afghanistan.
A highlight of the Corvallis program was the visit by Mr. Amin Wahab. Mr. Wahab grew up in Afghanistan and still has family living there, although he now works and lives in Portland, Oregon. He shared his experiences as a child in the years leading up to the Soviet invasion, then traced the political and cultural evolution of the country under the rule of the Soviet-sponsored regime, various Afghan warlords and finally under western military and pro-western government control following the ouster of the Taliban in early 2002.
But the most enjoyable portion of Mr. Wahab’s visit was his Afghan poetry recitals. Mr. Wahab first explained the meaning of several poems from his extensive collection. He then read them in their original Dara or Pashto, then translated each in turn. This gave the audience a wonderful insight into the Afghan culture, of which poetry is a key ingredient.
One of our VFP members and chief organizer of the event, Bill Glassmire, had this to say:
What I liked most about the March 16 event was that Amin Wahab is a neutral Afghan observer who talked about the situation in Afghanistan neither from the perspective of the US allies nor from the perspective of the opposition. I am sure that, like all of us, Amin Wahab has his biases, but he does stand outside the institutional forces which are contending in Afghanistan. I would like to hear more from him.
“[W]e were fortunate to have Mr. Wahab give so generously of his time to share his history and knowledge of Afghanistan,” said Carolyn Latierra, another organizer.
And Roberta Hall said, “It was a very informative event—so many different perspectives, and so little time when each requires hours. Made me feel how shallow our culture tends to be….”
The event was made possible, in part, by a generous donation from the Corvallis Friends Meeting and was sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee; Alternatives to War; Corvallis Fellowship of Reconciliation; and Veterans For Peace, Linus Pauling Chapter.