Sunday, September 6, 2009


The "idea for the American University of Afghanistan emerged in 2002, based on the success of other American Universities around the world." In 2005, First Lady, Laura Bush, visited the University site and announced a substantial grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to launch the institution. The first students enrolled in 2006. The University is "Afghanistan’s only not-for-profit, non-political, non-sectarian, non-governmental, private and independent, internationally-supported university." (

The web site goes on to say that "two buildings, heavily damaged in clashes between Afghan and Soviet forces in the 1980s and the factional war that followed, were repaired for office and classroom use." Those buildings are still be used, but more have been added. A gymnasium is currently under construction. Plans are to build a new facility nearby on a 45-acre plot; the hold-up is the $50 million price tag.

The administration building: beautifully landscaped - no elevator

My office is in here, one of the original buildings

The classroom and lab are here.

The students are mostly Afghans (I have one student from Kazakhstan)and they must get a minimum score of 500 on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) to be considered for admission to the Undergraduate Program. The classes are taught in English.

I'm teaching two lectures, Introduction to Science, and three Biology labs.

The first day of class I handed out 3 x 5 cards with each student's name. They all thought it was hysterical: my lame attempts to pronounce their names. (How would you pronounce 'Bakytgul?')

Anyway, I asked them to write what they would like to be called and to add a comment or two about themselves.

Here are some of the excerpts:

Potential brown-nosers:

"Science is my favorite subject."
"Happy to be in this class."


"Let's see how this class is, I hope it is interesting and cool."
"I learn much better when the subject is taught in an
interesting way."

Here's one that "loves science, but not complexity in science.'" Hmmm.

Quite a few like soccer and many are business majors.

Several had been in the States: "I like DC, because it is the capital and also green."

One young woman wants to be a doctor.

It's Ramadan, and I got "we're fasting, let us go a bit earlier."

There's a Nirvana fan and one who is planning on an MBA at Stanford.

Finally, my favorite one: "I'm so excited."

And so am I!

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