I have spent two action-packed, exciting, theater-filled days with my new family of 15! We have 2 women and 13 men representing 3 different theater groups in 3 different cities and provinces. There are 4 men from Kandahar which is in the south of Afghanistan. It is close to the border of Pakistan and the “tribal regions”. It is one of the more conservative parts of the country. Then there are 4 men from Jalalabad,which is in the East. It is also very close to the Pakistani border and has a strong Pashto cultural influence and history. Finally, there are 3 men and 2 women from Mazar-e-Sharif which is in the very north of Afghanistan. It is close to the border of Uzbekistan.
Who knew all my trepidation and hesitance would melt away so quickly and completely after only 2 days? Their disposition is so friendly and gentle and open. I feel like a little girl, having made new friends wanting to tell everyone all about them! They have really embraced me and made me feel at home. Today one of my friends, Shamz, said that I’m not American. He said I look like an Afghan, I dress like an Afghan and I eat like and Afghan! Shamz and I connected some more when we found out we were born in the same year. He then said he knew that we were the same age because he has gray hair in his beard and I have gray hair on my head! We all got a great big laugh out of that!
The group members are full of energy, and spirit! They are playing and experimenting with wide, open hearts. Sometimes they laugh at me because I am so excited when I talk to them that I bounce on my toes! They are such a smart, passionate group and I am honored to know them.
I am learning so much about their goals and hopes. During our first session, yesterday, one of the participants from Mazar said that they need more encounters like this, to share experiences and meet other theater artists. All of the artists say they struggle with lack of resources, to lack of safety, and lack of respect and recognition from their communities.
Tomorrow, they will all make images of a problem in their community and we will analyze the images and discuss them.
I am having trouble uploading video because the service isn’t great, but I am trying. I have some short street scenes and some video of the house I am living in!
Peace and Love ~ Kayhan