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Seminars in Central Asian Languages & Cultures

CeLCAR has provided intensive Afghan Languages and Culture Seminars for selected U.S. military personnel going to serve in Afghanistan.

The first seminar was initiated in July 2008 for our Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) who studied both Pashto and Dari in an intensive summer course.

Later, CeLCAR provided the same seminar for Indiana National Guard’s Agricultural Development Teams (ADT). Except this time, only Pashto was taught because ADTs would be visiting only Pashto speaking areas.

In August 2009, the US Army also requested this seminar for their military officials of the Embedded Training Teams (ETT). This time the ETTs only learned Dari because they were mostly going to be involved with the Afghan National Army (ANA).

Each seminar typically consists of about 30-80 students who are instructed by Native Afghans. The instruction for each class is about 8 hours a day, followed by lectures (presented by Indiana University Professors and Afghans who have conducted research in and have experience with Afghan culture and issues). Course books, multimedia materials, and other resources are provided by CeLCAR to all teams on the first of classes. Feedback from students about the educational materials provided has been overwhelmingly positive.

Thus far, the overall aspect of the seminars has been successful. Each time students have left with a healthy knowledge of useful and practical skills about Afghan languages and culture, including a first-hand experience of what Afghans are like thanks to having authentic Afghan instructors.

Throughout these seminars, relationships are built. Emphasizing the importance of languages and cultures, it helps students get a better sense of the culture and they utilize these skills to avoid “culture-shock” in Afghanistan. Going to a whole new country with the skills CeLCAR provides these students; it is a guarantee that these servicemen will have a much more successful mission in Afghanistan, benefitting both countries involved.


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