I am delighted to have the unique opportunity to lead the British Council operation in Afghanistan. The British Council has been creating educational and cultural opportunities, and with it building trust, between the people of Afghanistan and the UK since 2002. Our first office in Kabul opened in 1964 and after an absence in the 1990s, we returned to full operations in 2002. Many people engaged or interacted with our programmes and more recently interacted with us online as you are doing now.
In all my jobs it has always given me great pleasure when I hear from people things like “I am really grateful to British Council for helping me to progress in my career” or “your English Resource Centre in out Teacher Training College has ensured that our professional development can continue unabated, despite the very difficult external security environment, or “if it wasn’t for the British Council we would never have developed an understanding of and collection of women’s story telling that is a part of Afghan culture. That’s what cultural relations is about. That’s what we want to keep on doing. Every English lesson we teach, every time we connect UK universities to Afghan universities, every time young artists perform and interact in either country, every time someone sits an exam with us, every partnership between schools and colleges continues to bring the countries closer. I am very keen during my time here to build on that heritage so that more and people from Afghanistan can access UK culture, the English language, our education systems and expertise in areas such as social enterprise and cultural development. At the same time our partners in the UK have the chance to benefit from this interaction with Afghanistan.
As for me, I have just moved to Afghanistan from the United Arab Emirates where I had the regional post of Director English for the Middle East & North Africa for three years. I am really looking forward to getting to know more about Afghanistan and its very rich and enthralling culture. In fact, ever since I was a young adult I have dreamt of coming here, lured by the astonishing beautiful landscapes and the incredible diversity of language and cultures. I have spent a huge part of my life overseas and have valued what each country has taught me. I am a strong believer that living and working in different cultures has enriched my life experience and that I can absolutely see the benefits of appreciating both what makes us different as well as the same, and our common humanity. I originally graduated in Environment Studies and was planning a career in map-making and topographical surveying. But the attraction of this soon paled when I discovered that most map-making now is done in an office with a computer using satellite imagery rather than crossing a high mountain pass with a yak or camel caravan into some long lost land. I became, by accident, an English teacher in a remote village in Sudan and the experience was so enchanting I quickly refocused on professions in education.
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Country Director, Afghanistan