I have been in Kabul for just under 60 hours. And my brain is tired. Usually, when you travel to a new place, there are certain familiarities (e.g. hotels look and work very similarly), and you only need to learn the slight nuances of each place. But in Kabul, it feels like everything is substantially different and the process of doing things must be relearned. Leaving my house for work requires so many new steps (some for security, some to be culturally sensitive, and others that I have no idea about) that I can’t believe it is in any way related to the commuting I did around DC. Likewise, on my first night here, somehow I turned off everything in the bathroom (including the light, fan to outside, and hot water heater) and despite all my best attempts I could not get any or all of them back on. (I would have had a very difficult shower the next day had it not been for the maid, who cleaned my room during the day, fixing it while I was out.) My only exception to these new procedures is the bed in my room, which luckily, works the same as every other bed 🙂

I have so many things that I want to share about what I am learning and seeing here, but today I will tell you a little about my work and a little success I had today.

I work as an advisor to a counterpart within a very new team/unit of the Afghan government. My counterpart has a staff of 4 guys (I think there is one more who is out sick right now) and 2 girls. I only briefly met them yesterday, but I could tell that they are eager to learn and interested in me (very different experience from walking into a team meeting in the US). Today, I sat in a training with them (which was given in Persian so I had no idea what they were discussing, but the slides were in English). After the training, I tried talking with the girls, although it’s very difficult because their English is limited. One of the girls was doing a google search (in Persian) about one of the topics from the training. They commented about how it is difficult because they do not have many websites (or books or other materials) available in Persian about the topics they are learning and working on.

Well, it made perfect sense to me what they needed (translations!) so I showed them that google has an impressive feature that will translate texts as well as entire webpages. The internet is slow, but when the example page I showed them finally came up, the entire group was so excited. They were making jokes and laughing about this. Technology and a little knowledge can open up so much for them.