Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Beginning of a Journey: Becoming an Air Advisor, Part IV

Salaam Alaikim! Chitoor astain? Zeyat khoob astam, wa hafta khoob ast!

As you can tell, this week was primarily focused on language lessons. We spent four hours each day learning Dari, which is one of the two national languages of Afghanistan. By the end of our lessons, we should be able to "get by" if we find outselves in a situation without an interpreter. We can also use it to impress our counterparts with our mad language skills...or show them that we respect the fact we're on their territory and are making an effort to reach out to them in their environment.

Our language instructor has been very good. He's taught us with a phenomenal blend of vocabulary, grammar/verb conjugation, and sentence structure. As a result, we're able to do basic things, like introduce ourselves, ask how they and their family are doing, and say that we need some particular item. At least for me, understanding basic sentence structure helps me create the sentences I need to create rather than trying to memorize certain phrases that have very little meaning or no way to associate the words to anything known. And, so that I can refresh my memory when I get over there, we have the instructor slides and a set of index cards! I know. I'm a dork.

This week we also had a cultural meal. A week or so ago, a few of us went to the local Afghan restaurant for dinner. That same restaurant also caters a cultural meal for each class so that we can try some authentic Afghan food and to get an idea of what to expect when we eat with them. The food was very good! We had a sort of curry chicken with rice, spiced garbanzo beans, salad, and bread. It was delicious! When we get the opportunity to eat with them, it will most likely be at their base. In those cases, they have couches and/or tables to sit at and we will eat with utinsels -- just like we would normally do. The traditional Afghan meal, however, and what you would likely expect if you were to eat at an Afghan's house, is to sit on the floor with legs crossed (Indian-style!) and eat with your right hand (no utinsels). I'm thinking that must make eating rice fun! Unfortunately, I don't think I'll have the opportunity to eat at an Afghan's house. I'm sure that would be the cultural experience of a lifetime!

Well, only one week of training left! We finish our language classes next week and have our final exercise, where we basically have to put together all that we've learned. Then home for a day and off again on a 50-mile hike with Brennan and the scouts! Woohoo!

By the way, the Dari at the top says, "Hello! (technically, it's "Peace be upon you") How are you? I'm doing great, and it's been a good week!"

I hope you have a great week also! Khodaa Hafez! (Goodbye or, more specifically, Godspeed)

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