Future Afghan Leaders Ask Tough Questions, Graduate PRT Seminar

Story Number: NNS080101-04Release Date: 1/1/2008 7:35:00 PM
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By Ensign Christopher Weis, Provincial Reconstruction Team, Khost Afghanistan

KHOST, Afghanistan (NNS) -- Political science students tend to ask tough questions and it is no different at the University of Khost in Afghanistan. What is new is those answering the questions.

For the last six months Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Cmdr. Dave Adams and Department of State representative Kael Weston have been interacting with the University of Khost students.

Adams and 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 are evident as the Americans and Afghans hugged and congratulated each other.

University Chancellor, Gul Hassan Wali Zai explained how simply talking together in an outdoor pavilion helped "to break down the barriers between Afghanistan and the coalition."

One of the students, Ziaullah Safi, agreed that "the seminar was beneficial for both the students and the Americans. For the students, it helped with their knowledge of the world. For the Americans, it informed them about Afghan culture."

Weston and Adams encouraged an open dialogue on all aspects of foreign policy and even invited U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan William Wood as a guest lecturer.

Wood fielded a volley of probing questions, including commenting on the possibility of a third world war.

"I don't think it will happen," Wood said. "The world is moving toward greater unity."

Building greater unity one student at a time is what the PRT seminar is all about, Weston explained.

"They came from 20 provinces and offered frank views. Officials tell you official things; students tell you what is on their minds," he said. "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."

For more news from Provincial Reconstruction Team, Khost Afghanistan, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/PRTKhost/.

Khost University professors and students pose for a group picture after one of many seminars held by Provincial Reconstruction Team Khost during the course of their deployment in Afghanistan.
Official U.S. Navy file photo.
January 4, 2008
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