Above is my Avatar venturing through the virtual Afghanistan museum.
I ventured to Second Life’s virtual Afghanistan. I decided to stray away from an American setting and try out my “virtual foreign travel” comfort zone, by expanding my experiences. I learned about Afghanistan’s culture and its unique features during my visit in the museum. Three native animals include the Marco Polo Sheep, the Himalayan Brown Bear and the Siberian Ibex. Afghanistan has such a wide variety of animals and I was surprised to see even snow leopards and lizards! I ventured upstairs to a balcony-like area, and perused the menu. I clicked on the yellow button and a large cloth, called a disterkhan” appeared, establishing the eating area on the ground to the left of my feet. The nana (whole wheat bread with sesame seeds) or the kebabs (lamb cuts spiced with salt) sounded pretty appetizing! I visited the musical instrument part of the museum and learned about the saunter, a three octave dulcimer, as well as the tambur, which is a wooden lute-like instrument.
I discovered the Nuristani people, a group living in the east corner of Afghanistan accessible mostly by foot. Despite my expectations, the Nuristani people are known for blonde hair and blue eyes. This puzzled me a bit due to my natural instincts to lean towards a Middle-Eastern looking individual. The Nuristani are herders and farmers, as well as loggers and miners. Another cultural fact I learned was that the burqa or burka was not introduced by the Taliban, but merely enforced by them. The burqa was a pre-Islamic cap, veil and mesh face covering. In addition to the burka, most Afghan women also wear a long colorful dress, baggy trousers, and footwear. The entire outfit is called a kale Afghani.
Above is my Avatar exploring the RAWA exhibit.
The RAWA exhibit enlightened me with a whole new perspective about war and its effects on not only the government and soldiers, but also the innocent civilians. According to their website, RAWA is the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, the oldest political/social organization of Afghan women struggling for peace, freedom, democracy and women’s rights in fundamentalism-blighted Afghanistan since 1977 (RAWA, 2013). RAWA pushes to provide lasting educational and social work for the women and children of the currently destroyed Afghanistan. I was uncomfortable from the get go with the exhibit, but it felt like I positively benefitted from the information I learned.
From a historical standpoint, the Afghanistan War has been going on for over a decade (Gannon, 2011). The war has taken a tool on the people of Afghanistan. An entire generation of children have grown up amidst daily bombings and the sights of military personnel in full combat gear. Despite the fact that schools have been improved and reopened due to the United Nations’ organizational efforts, Afghanistan’s future looks grim and many citizens are losing hope.
The women of Afghanistan have also been severely affected by the war, especially in terms of violence. Women and children are joining efforts with the Afghan Women’s Mission to spread the word the the war should end in order to prevent further bloodshed of innocent lives and to also decrease abuse between the soldiers and men of Afghanistan and the innocent civilian women (Linkins, 2010). Many women are afraid to voice their negativity towards the war and its effect on their lives, mainly due to Taliban fear and retaliation.
An anti-American component of the exhibit is the mural of the man or woman (I cannot tell) shouting in a speech bubble “neither the US nor Jihadis nor the Taliban, long live the struggle of independent and democratic forces of Afghanistan.” From what I saw on the news the past 5 to 10 years, our American forces helped stabilize the country of Afghanistan, we are keeping the Taliban out of the country and we are improving the education of the citizens. Maybe this individual has experienced a extremely negative series of events to cause them to not want American help. I do not know the context, but that is my opinion from face value.
Gannon, K. (2011, October 5). 10 years on and life grim for afghans read more: http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2011/10/05/10-years-on-and-life-grim-for-afghans.html?
Linkins, J. (2010, July 30). Is the war in afghanistan good for women?. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/30/is-the-war-in-afghanistan_n_665044.html
Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). (2013). About rawa. Retrieved from http://www.rawa.org/index.php