Sunday, January 29, 2006

Control Freak

My anxiety is building up. In a good way. I've been researching on the Internet and communicating with people who have been to Afghanistan, or are already there. I don't know if I am going to be mentally prepared for the poverty. Seeing images on the web and speaking with a film maker who was there two years ago, most Americans would not believe nor comprehend the living conditions. Over there, people are struggling to live - wondering where their next meal will come from. In the States, we worry about which colored shirt to wear in the morning and weather it will match our slacks.

Terri, the film maker I met with, spent a month in Afghanistan shooting a documentary commissioned by the US Army. She is going to see if she can send me the DVD of the finished product.

There were four in her group and they were there for a month, about two years ago. She said things seemed safer then because it was just after the US troops went into Iraq and the focus had shifted. But, she always had security detail with her. She didn't sleep much. Although she was in the protection of the US military's walls, she wasn't at ease. She was also the only one in her group not to get sick. She attributes this to not drinking the water and doing nothing with the water - not even washing her hands, brushing her teeth, eating fruits and veggies that was washed with the water.

I asked her about dress. She suggested to blend in as much as you can so not to draw attention. However, while there, she did not wear any head covering. She also advised to wear sturdy shoes because of all the rocks and rubble around.

I told her that I was curious to see if Afghanistan is better off now. She politely reminded me that women can be seen outside and attend school. So yes, Afghanistan as a country is better off.
My major concerns with the trip are things I can control. There is no point in worrying about things I cannot control - such as being kidnapped or shot at (I'm know a whole lotta people will be praying for me) - well, I guess I can control those things by NOT going, but I'm determined to go. I am concerned about showing the proper courtesy and respect to the Afghan people and our hosts. I am concerned that my pants will not be shapeless and "flowing" enough. I am concerned I will not have the proper head scarf. I am concerned about clearing Customs in the States. I'm quite sure I must be on some watch list, especially since visiting Cuba two years ago.

I need to work on my query letters this week and catch up on some reading. But like my trip to Japan, I will learn the most when I am immersed in the culture.

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