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News and Views

Ambassador Jawad Helps Open New Afghan Exhibit at Library of Congress

Ambassador Jawad was among the guests of honor at the Library of Congress, Tuesday February 23, 2010, where a multimedia exhibit displaying a select hand-painted scrolls and letters received in the thousands by Afghanistan's most popular radio station, RFE/RL's Radio Azadi, went on display.  Joined by Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA), and members of the RFE/RL’s Board of Directors, Ambassador Jawad enjoyed a warm reception amidst many supporters who happily enjoyed plates piled high with Afghan cuisine.    

Prior to delivering remarks, the ambassador, accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Shamim Jawad took time to visit the exhibit and read the letters.  Ambassador Jawad later told the crowd the papers were evidence of Afghanistan’s true treasures; the people’s will.  He said, “As you go over some of the letters, you will notice that the “Voices from Afghanistan” showcase the beauty and resilience of the Afghan culture, as well as the hope of our people.” 

The exhibit, "Voices from Afghanistan", offers a window into the daily lives of ordinary Afghans from various ethnic communities across all parts of the country. “Despite feelings of despair and frustration in some letters, these Afghan voices are full of optimism for a better future for our people,” said Jawad. 

Since the broadcast first aired in 2001, Radio Azadi received thousands of pieces of "fan mail" from merchants, clerics, farmers, university students and schoolchildren across Afghanistan.  RFE/RL presented these letters as a gift to the permanent collection of the Library of Congress's African and Middle Eastern Division.

In some of the letters on display, teenagers discuss conditions at their schools, villagers complain about corrupt officials, refugees describe their plight, and young lovers make song requests. Drawing on a centuries-long tradition of calligraphic art and miniature paintings, many writers painstakingly adorn their letters and scrolls with elaborate, ornate designs and colorful pictures. The multimedia exhibit also includes Radio Azadi audio clips as well as manuscripts, maps, photos, and music from the Library's permanent collection of artifacts from Afghanistan.

The Library of Congress will host the exhibit on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson building at 10 First Street, S.E., Washington, D.C. The exhibit is free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday until May 8, 2010.

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