Instructor finds hope, inspiration in Afghanistan

Instructor finds hope, inspiration in Afghanistan


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Kait Vosswinkel, Clarion Copy Editor

Afghanistan is a caricature in many American minds. Images of war and terror are flung across TV screens across the nation, and horror stories spread like wildfire. However, Amy Minett has a very different relationship with Afghanistan.

Minett, an English instructor at Madison Area Technical College, spent one month working with the United States Institute for International Development, in Kabul, Afghanistan.

She was there working with the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Institute of Diplomacy writing curriculum for a program teaching Afghan diplomats English. The program trained Afghan teachers to instruct the diplomats in English and to assess their progress.

While in Kabul, Minett travelled by armored car to get from place to place to ensure that she and others had the best security possible. Most of her protectors were ex-special force agents from Britain or Afghanistan.

“I had enormous faith in them,” she said.

The community she was in was located near NATO headquarters. Minett became very close with the group she worked with. There was a shared bond through the stress of living in such a stressful situation.

“You get in the zone. There’s no way to tell who has good intentions when you are there. It’s a very weird world to be in,” Minett explained.

On Sept. 14, a team of insurgents in Kabul attacked NATO headquarters, the U.S. Embassy and other buildings. What struck Minett the most, though, was the Afghan people. They bonded together in the aftermath of the tragedy. The people were inspiring as they lived their lives, especially the police, she said.

“They didn’t have the armored cars that private companies had and they were still risking their lives to protect the people of their country,” Minett said.

She found the people wonderfully hospitable and incredibly brave, she said.

“They’ve had to live in such a nightmare for so long, it’s essential,” Minett said. “The Afghans that I worked with had the courage to ask tough questions. They wanted help. They dealt with so many broken promises and financial problems over the years, yet were ready to pick up and start again.”

After being in Afghanistan, she said there is a general misconception of Afghanistan. She says there is a different Afghanistan, one that is not what we see in the news.

“There are young people working every day to change their country,” Minett said. “They’re coming back to re-build their country.”

Minett visited Kabul in 2008. She said she saw people moving on with their lives more than during her previous visit.

“I saw women walking alone in the street, speaking out, and even working in diplomacy and foreign affairs,” Minett said.

One woman that Minett worked with gave her a gift that she’ll never forget. It was a ring that was on the hand of one of her friends. She didn’t know it prior to her experiences in Afghanistan, but it is a custom to give another person an object if they admire it.“So my friend gave me her ring, and I told her, ‘Alright, I’ll accept on one condition,’” Minett said. “’Every time I look at this ring, I’ll think of the hope of Afghanistan.’”