ISAF Chief Lends Support to Afghan High School

KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 23, 2011 — Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, the com­mand­ing gen­er­al of Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force, vis­it­ed an art exhib­it fea­tur­ing the work of gift­ed Afghan stu­dents near here last week.

Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, com­man­der of Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force, shakes the hand of Prin­ci­pal Aziz Royesh dur­ing a vis­it to Mare­fat High School near Kab­ul. The school’s stu­dents pre­sent­ed Allen with a paint­ing that depicts nomads. The stu­dents’ ges­ture was in response to Allen’s per­son­al gift of $1,700 for 10 annu­al stu­dent schol­ar­ships. The paint­ing is dis­played in the ISAF head­quar­ters build­ing in Kab­ul.
Cour­tesy pho­to
Click to enlarge

The exhib­it was part­ly orga­nized by Mare­fat High School, locat­ed west of Kab­ul, whose stu­dents had their art­work pub­lished in a book of Afghan proverbs through a project fund­ed by a U.S. Embassy grant. “You can real­ly see the soul of the coun­try in these pic­tures,” Allen said at the exhibit. 

To show sup­port for the edu­ca­tion of Afghan chil­dren, Allen wrote a $1,700 per­son­al check to fund 10 annu­al stu­dent schol­ar­ships. In response, the chil­dren and the high school’s prin­ci­pal, Aziz Royesh, pre­sent­ed Allen with a large painting. 

“Some of this work reminds me of the places I have been,” said the gen­er­al, as he exam­ined the paint­ing of Kuchi nomads in Afghanistan. 

Allen’s atten­tion had been drawn to the high school’s fundrais­er by Navy Capt. Edward Zellem, an Afghanistan Pak­istan Hands pro­gram mem­ber and direc­tor of the ISAF Pres­i­den­tial Infor­ma­tion Coor­di­na­tion Cen­ter detach­ment at the pres­i­den­tial palace here. 

Zellem start­ed to col­lect Dari proverbs while learn­ing the lan­guage as a part of the pro­gram that was ini­ti­at­ed in 2009 by Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

“Proverbs are a very impor­tant part of the Afghan cul­ture,” said Zellem, who had worked with Mare­fat High School stu­dents to illus­trate the book of 151 Dari proverbs that were col­lect­ed and trans­lat­ed over the past 18 months. 

The book’s ini­tial pub­lish­ing run and dis­tri­b­u­tion is fund­ed by a U.S. Embassy grant, with the first 40,000 com­pli­men­ta­ry copies dis­trib­uted through­out Afghanistan as a “gift from the Amer­i­can people.” 

To sup­port Mare­fat High School, which enrolled 2,600 boys and girls this year, Zellem pro­vid­ed the school with a copy­right license to repub­lish and sell the book for prof­it in Afghanistan, with pro­ceeds going to assist stu­dents with their annu­al tuition. 

“This school is pro­gres­sive and inde­pen­dent thought is strong­ly encour­aged,” Zellem said. Mare­fat High School, he said, was found­ed in 1994 in Pak­istan by Afghan refugees, but after 9/11 it was moved to Kabul. 

The school teach­es its young female stu­dents to think of them­selves as indi­vid­u­als who will have future work­ing careers. In 2008, the school was attacked by mul­lahs because of its pro­gres­sive curriculum. 

“I want to be a jour­nal­ist,” said Jahi­ra Jakari, a 15-year-old girl who sold sev­er­al of her paint­ings at the exhibition. 

The ongo­ing rela­tion­ship with Mare­fat High School is a direct result of the Afghanistan Pak­istan Hands pro­gram, which aims to build trust with the mil­i­tary and local pop­u­la­tions and to speed the tran­si­tion of respon­si­bil­i­ties to Afghan forces. 

Zellem’s job is to pro­vide and coor­di­nate time­ly and accu­rate infor­ma­tion on strate­gic-lev­el events to Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai and to facil­i­tate under­stand­ing between the Pres­i­den­tial Palace and ISAF leadership. 

Before depart­ing the event, Allen pat­ted Zellem on the shoul­der and said, “You are not leav­ing until I fin­ish my tour.” 

Allen’s paint­ing is dis­played in the halls of ISAF head­quar­ters here. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →