By Air Force 2nd Lt. Natassia Cherne
Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs
NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (December 14, 2009) – Anne Frej, a cultural affairs specialist from the U.S. embassy in Kabul, visited the Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team to view potential locations for a Lincoln Center, Dec. 13.
Lincoln Centers are a partnership between the public affairs section of the U.S. embassy in Kabul and the Afghan government. The centers provide books, internet, and programming for the Afghan public free of charge.
The centers hold events and activities such as author readings, film showings, speaker programs, workshops and meetings. Lincoln Centers also hold programs like English conversation clubs, internet courses, and speakers on Muslim life in America.
Two potential sites were identified for the Nuristan Lincoln Center, a school in the Nengarach village and the Nurgurum District center.
If either site is suitable, the Lincoln Center will be fully funded by the U.S. embassy if the local government or district government will donate the space free of charge.
The local government must also pay the security staff. Once a location is established, the embassy will install all the computer equipment, stock the library and hire a staff to run the center.
“Lincoln centers have been tremendously successful in both the east and north regions of Afghanistan, because they are a place where students go to gain access to a new world view,” said Kathryn Hoffman, foreign service officer for the Department of State. “The center also allows the PRT to do a lot of programming, like discussions on the meaning of elections and the role of women in society. We are really lucky that our Lincoln Center [will be] fully funded in the coming year.”
Lincoln Centers have been established in the major cities of Afghanistan, like Kabul, Herat and Jalalabad. In Kabul, there is a Lincoln Center at the Kabul University and there are also plans to place one in the women’s garden in Kabul.
“In some of the remote regions in Afghanistan there aren’t any internet cafés or even internet access, so the idea is to get into some of the more remote areas and create a place that provides students with English language programs, other types of programs and internet access,” Frej said. “Again, the program is about reaching out into the community, especially younger generations, and giving them a place to go and congregate to learn about American culture.”
In addition to looking at potential sites for the Lincoln Center and internet café, Frej also attended an educational shura to be held at Kalagush, Dec. 15.
She provided information on education and exchange programs offered by the U.S. State Department to students in Afghanistan including the Youth Exchange and Study program.
The YES program sponsors Afghan students visiting the U.S. who stay with a family and attend high school to learn English and the American culture for up to one academic year.
Frej identified how this program has benefited Afghanistan.
“Some of the students who have returned from the U.S. on the YES program have actually come together and formed a group in Afghanistan to try to do things to better their local communities,” Frej said.
The U.S. Embassy plans on establishing at least ten more Lincoln Centers around Afghanistan before the end of 2010.
The time frame for the Lincoln Center to be opened in Nuristan would be approximately six months, but if a location is chosen during her visit, the center and café can be opened as soon as February 2010.
NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan- Anne Frej, a cultural affairs specialist for the U.S. embassy in Kabul; Kathryn Hoffman, foreign service officer for the Department of State; George Like, field project officer from U.S. Agency of International Development; and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Lukas Haaglund, security force squad leader for the Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team, and native of Winnemucca, Nev., walk in the Nurguram District, Dec. 13. Nurguram is a possible location for a proposed Lincoln Center, to be provided by the U.S. Embassy. Lincoln Centers are a partnership between the public affairs section of the embassy in Kabul and the Afghan government that provide books, internet and programming for the Afghan public free of charge. (U.S. Air Force/photo 2nd Lt Natassia Cherne)
NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan- U.S. Army Sgt. Thomas Cinkovich, a native of Sparks, Nev., and security force team leader for the Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team, secures Nengarach village for the visit of Anne Frej, a cultural affairs specialist for the U.S. embassy, Dec. 13. Lincoln Centers are a partnership between the public affairs section of the embassy in Kabul and the Afghan government that provide books, internet, and programming for the Afghan public free of charge. (U.S. Air Force/photo 2nd Lt Natassia Cherne)