A Travel Diary from Afghanistan: Kabul, 28 September 2014, Day 7

We started in Herat this morning at 6am. Due to the usual morning traffic jams we only have about an hour to freshen up in our hotel before visiting the university. Tomorrow, Monday, the new President Ashraf Ghani will be inaugurated. They’re expecting VIPs from many different countries; perhaps even Angela Merkel will come. That would be a good gesture. Since half of the city will be closed off for security reasons, the authorities have decreed a holiday for Kabul. The university will be closed too, because the students won’t be able to get through security.

It’s really amazing that finally everything works out. The faculty quickly reschedules all their plans by one day. Fortunately, Sunday is a normal working day - the weekend starts on Friday.

We are very happy to meet Dean Rahmani and his team again. I feel particular sympathy and admiration for his three female colleagues who had a hard time locked away at home for years under the Taliban regime. It was dangerous to own or even be seen reading books.

Sitting here with the women – each one has cooked her own specialty: bolani, my favorite mantu, small dumplings filled with lentils and yogurt sauce, cake and semolina pudding with cardamom, pistachios and rosewater – I’m extremely proud of these young people, who are standing up for their future. If the wrong government were to come to power, all the odds would stack up against young academics. They soak up as much information as they can: How can we do a good job later? What is the right approach for our country? They ask these fundamental questions over and over, and again after Thurid’s guest lecture. Our Afghan partners seem almost disappointed that we can’t come up with a single solution. We explain that it also took over 30 years until the old structures in Germany were broken up after the war. The reform process is slow, and at the end of one reform is often the beginning of the next and, at best, you’ve learned something new in the process.

But a teacher once told us that this exact approach is part of the success in our coaching – to know the fact that there’s not one true way of doing things, and that there are no blueprints.

Text: Julka Jantz - Project Coordinator for the project “Strengthening of Public Administration Education in Afghanistan.”
Online-Editing: Agnes Bressa, Translation: Pearl Wallace
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