Monday, October 8, 2012

So What Exactly Do I Do Over Here?

The intricacies of any job are sometimes hard to understand (I spent years trying to figured out exactly what my dad does, and to be honest, I still couldn't tell you.) My job, however, is pretty simple. And it's such a cool job that I wanted to share it with you!

I'm living in Afghanistan for ten months. (Nine, now. Wow, it's going fast!) Last time I was here, we did some workshops, hosted one amazing tournament, and waved goodbye. This time, our goal is to create a sustainable program that continues after we leave, to give the expertise necessary for Afghans to debate, coach, judge, host tournaments, and run debate clubs at the universities. We have plans to host lots and lots of tournaments; have weekly club meetings at multiple universities to train debaters; run "debate institutes" to train potential coaches on more advanced topics; and provide opportunities for students to connect and engage in peaceful discussion through Skype debates, discussions at the office, round robin and practice debates, etc. Next June, we want to leave behind a group of trained debaters at each university and a group of coaches/former debaters/other interested parties who can help them continue to improve.

So that's the plan. Tune in next June to see how it went.

Right now, we are gearing up for our first tournament. Which means that things are crazy! We spend a lot of our time teaching, either at the universities:

or here in the office:

Sometimes, we plan to go to teach a workshop, but something happens and we aren't allowed to go.
There have been a lot of protests since we got here, so we get these kinds of updates quite often. Today, I was meant to go meet with the club at Kabul Educational University, but since the students were protesting the name change, I didn't get to go. That has happened a couple of times, and although it is aggravating, I have to remind myself that safety is more important than a two-hour workshop.

The whole office has lunch together in the dining room downstairs. The food is usually really good, but my favorite is when I get to fill up on watermelon!

As with any program, we have lots of work in the office. Planning lessons and events, preparing for tournaments, doing the paperwork for our grant. We have a fun office, though, because there are neat people who work here. We also have lots of students drop by over the course of the day, so that leads to really interesting discussions.

Every day here is a little bit different, which is what makes it exciting. One of my favorite times every day is after the staff leaves and I sit for a moment at my desk in the quiet office. I pause to take a breath, to reflect on the day, to think about everything we are accomplishing and all of the reasons I'm so glad to be working here.

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