Monday, June 18, 2007

Qu Qu Qu Barg-e-Chinaar Book Release

Reception at the Embassy of Afghanistan

Welcome Remarks

H.E. Said Tayeb Jawad

Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States

Washington, DC

March 2, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Welcome to the Embassy of Afghanistan. It is a pleasure to host you all for a great cause and a happy occasion: the publication of Qu Qu Qu Barg-e-Chinaar. We are truly honored to have you with us tonight. Allow me to acknowledge the presence of some of our distinguished guests:

Margaret McKenna, President of Lesley University,

Mahmood Karzai,

Also we’d like to extend our thanks to National Geographic, Arslan Lufti and TriVision, Vaheed Kaacamy, and AYENDA for working with Dr. Pascale to develop this wonderful project.

Welcome to our embassy.

We are delighted to have as our guest Dr. Louise Pascale. It was her dedication to the children of Afghanistan that transformed this project from a daydream into a reality. Louise first visited Afghanistan as a Peace Corp volunteer in the sixties. The Peace Corp was often the first exposure that Americans had to Afghanistan’s rich culture, as well as the first exposure that many Afghans had to Americans. The Americans who were guests in Afghanistan during this time period were forever touched by their experiences. Even today, former Peace Corp volunteers from Afghanistan publish a newsletter and stay in touch to reminisce and discuss the state of the country that was once their second home.

However, many of them didn’t realize the impact that they made on the tiny villages to which they were posted in remote corners of the country. After the Peace Corp left Afghanistan, some of these villages didn’t see another foreigner for years or even decades. But when American troops arrived in 2002, the village elders would ask them if they knew John or Fred or Joe, if they were well, if they were happy. You see, they could only imagine America as a mirror to their own village, where everyone knew one another, and they wanted to check in on their old friends. The contributions that these passionate young men and women made to Afghanistan were not forgotten. Louise Pascale was one of these dedicated young people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dr. Pascale’s service did not end all those years ago when she left Afghanistan to return to her friends and her family in America. Like so many other Americans who have experienced the hospitality of our people, shared our food, and learned our customs she carried Afghanistan around in her heart. The book that we are celebrating tonight, Qu Qu Qu Barg-e-Chinaar, is a great gift to three groups of people. First, it will enable Afghan children to reclaim another piece of their lost culture. Second, it will allow those of us who grew up with these songs to lose ourselves in the sights and smells and sounds of our own childhoods. And lastly, like a self-giving gift, it will bring back to Dr. Pascale the joyful sounds of Afghan children at play that she crystallized in her memory so many years ago.

Those of you who have visited Afghanistan know how dramatically our country has changed over the last five years, thanks our people’s determination to rebuild. The sight of frightened and abandoned children is being replaced by beautiful Afghan girls hurrying to school in their black and white uniforms and Afghan boys learning their math lessons under a tree in a small village.

Throughout Afghanistan’s tragic past, some thought that the solution to the problems in our country was to put guns in the hands of Afghan children. Today, people like Dr. Pascale are helping to right these wrongs. They are giving the children songs instead of guns, and teaching them how to sing and play instead of how to fight.

I would like to personally thank Dr. Pascale and her colleagues for helping young Afghans rediscover the joys of childhood. This is the greatest and most natural gift that anyone can give, and we are forever grateful.

Thank you.

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