23 December 2008

On holidays, hope, and Kabul in 2009

Let me jump right out of the chute and tell you I am moving to Kabul, Afghanistan, the first of the year to take a faculty position with the American University of Afghanistan. I intend to stay in touch with friends and family members through this blog. I know I have lost touch with some of you; that is my loss.

I returned to the States in early June after teaching at an American university in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, for the two previous years. I arrived soon after the mainstream news media and the political class discovered our nation’s economic meltdown, perhaps because the pain was no longer limited to just working- and middle-class Americans. Anyway, finding gainful employment in this climate, as some of you may also know, has not been fun. I ended up teaching sociology part-time at a community college here in Albuquerque, while I looked for a fulltime faculty position elsewhere.

I am genuinely excited about going to Afghanistan, despite the fact the security situation is as bad as it has been since U.S. troops arrived in 2001. First of all, it’s a fulltime job and, if it’s anything like my stint at AUCA, I will get more professional respect in one month that I would in a year as adjunct faculty in the States. It also gets me closer to Ksana (whose photo appears in lower portion of the right column), who I met in Bishkek and still lives there. Lastly, I still have a thirst for travel and adventure. I should add that I was very impressed by the Afghan students I had at American U of Central Asia. Their determination to improve their lives and their nation after three decades of war and devastation, their hope in spite of it all, inspired me.

If you think I’m crazy for going Afghanistan at this time, I won’t try to dissuade you because there are times when I am in complete agreement. However, what I fear even more is that life of “quiet desperation” that Thoreau lamented, so maybe this is my way of trying to act myself out of that fate.

So check back if you’d like. I don’t post regularly, but in fits and starts; stay tuned...