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Afghan Delegation Conclude U.S. Training in Preservation and Park Management

Mohammad Sharif Mohammadi, Aiamuddin Ajmal and Sayed Nasir Modaber departed the United States to Kabul this month after an eight week training with National Park Service sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Cultural Heritage Center office.

As representatives of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, they trained with National Park Service staff at Tumacacori National Historical Park and Casa Grande Ruins National Monument in Arizona, and the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument and the National Park Service Intermountain Cultural Resources Program in New Mexico. They visited Bandelier National Monument, Pecos National Historical Park, the Huhugam Heritage Center, McFarland State Historical Park, the University of Arizona, the National Park Service Western Archeological and Conservation Center, and the Albright Training Center at Grand Canyon National Park.
While in Washington, the men toured several sites including Lafayette Park just north of the White House.

Upon their return to Afghanistan, the officials will work toward the preservation and protection of the country’s historic and cultural artifacts. Mr. Mohammadi is the manager of historical monuments in Balkh Province, Mr. Ajmal is manager of historical monuments in Herat and Mr.
Modaber is manager of historical monument in Bamiyan where his major duties include supervision of the reconstruction of the Buddha statues destroyed by the Taliban.

Frank McManamon, Chief Archeologist for the National Park Service said, “It was clear that they appreciated this opportunity and wanted to share their experiences, knowledge, and expertise…They quickly perceived the problems of conserving the outdoor monuments and began discussing the various possible preservation treatments and how these varied, or were similar, to those they utilized in Bamiyan, Herat, and Balkh Provinces.”

The Afghan officials expressed their interest in seeing how children at the park were involved in programs and learning about their heritage and culture. "We’re here to learn how to take care of monuments, learn new technologies, use of tools and to have this international relationship bring attention to the plight of the resources in Afghanistan," Mr. Modaber said. "This is more a fact finding tour, to learn how you do things in America. You have people trained here and we have contractors doing our work and we merely oversee the work; make sure that it is being done right."

While in Washington, the officials met with Ambassador Said Jawad, Political Counselor Fazel R. Fazel, Political Counselor Ashraf Haidari, Cultural Attache Hamid Elmi, and First Secretary Omar Ghafoorzai. “Afghanistan has a rich culture and history that she is eager to share with the rest of the world. The restoration of museums and creation of National Parks will be the slow, meticulous and vital work of which these men will play a valuable role. We are proud of their efforts and of their dedication. And it is through this belief in ourselves, in our history and our culture, that Afghanistan will persevere and rebuild,” said Ambassador Jawad.

The U.S. Congress created a Cultural Antiquities Task Force in 2004 to help support cultural preservation and protection in Afghanistan and Iraq and to help international organizations stop looting and trafficking of antiquities. Programs like this hope to support Afghan culture and further build Afghanistan’s capacity in this essential sector.

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