"Yesterday, we snuck out to a local café on “Flower Street”.  Entering through the two heavily guarded entrances, we stepped into a beautiful garden, full of vines and sunflowers, tables and cushions around the sides.  It was a very lovely vibe, and you could almost forget the barbed wire on the surrounding walls.  We all sat in the sunlight reading our books, watching the other groups of Internationals enjoying the sunlight.  Inside, the café was beautifully and tastefully decorated, with vibrant reds and paintings hanging from the walls.  I confess I have felt incredibly starved of “culture” lately; anything vaguely cultural is rarely open to women, and it is one of the things I miss most.  Just having the opportunity to gaze at the art for awhile, I felt enlivened.  In the evening, we went to our favourite restaurant, the Korean one.  Run by Christians, we can relax once inside, taking off our headscarves.  They make delicious Teriyaki Tofu onsite, but what I love best of all is the Korean tea.  Served in octagonal glass teacups, upon octagonal glass saucers, the translucent liquid and its gentle taste, is a piece of art.

"Prior to the bombings, I had a few victories of my own.  Firstly, I taught my first glass, a group of 15 younger girls.  This Semester, we are doing arts, and exploring the idea that “Art is Everywhere”.  Our first class was all about lines.  Having been warned that the kids tend to copy, rather than come up with anything original, I talked to them about Christopher Columbus: how he had set off to find Asia, but instead found America.  How explorer’s aren’t scared off making mistakes and going places no-one’s ever been before.  Story certainly seems a culturally appropriate way of teaching; for they were all absorbed.  But, when it came to drawing, they forgot about drawing lines and started drawing stuff.  So I read out the riot act:  the two rules, one – to draw upon the paper, two – to draw lines.  In groups they worked together, and one group began really having fun with different lines, layering the different colours and being fearless.  The next week, we did rubbings, and it was a roaring success, going around the Skatepark – inside and out – and delighting in textures.  But, the thing that stood the most out was observing the girl’s unhappiness when grouped apart from their friends.  Of course, this is normal in classrooms, but what bothered me was how the more educated girls were unprepared to work together with the poorer girls, even to the extent of ostracising them from the group.  I still don’t know how best to tackle this as an educator, so any advice would go down a treat.  That evening, we were driving back and, on the road, I saw some of my girls, begging amidst the traffic.  When they saw us, they hid – despite our waving – I supposed they felt ashamed.  That made me feel sad.

"Aside from classes, I had a very enjoyable conversation with two of the female Afghan staff members.  One of them works for us fulltime, and is an inspired Educator.  The other is the only woman studying Engineering at Kabul University.  I feel really grateful for my “Eastern” background – my Sri Lankan experience puts me somewhere between these young women and the Western staff-and it was interesting to talk."

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