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NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan –The Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team and members of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul viewed potential locations in the province for a new Lincoln Center, Dec. 13.
Lincoln Centers are education hubs which are a partnership between the public affairs section of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and the Afghan government.
“The program is about reaching out into the community, especially younger generations, and giving them a place to go and congregate to learn about American culture, said Anne Frej, a cultural affairs specialist from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
The centers provide Afghans tools for learning such as books and the Internet. They also host events and activities such as author readings, film showings, speaker programs, workshops and meetings.
Lincoln Centers also hold programs like English conversation clubs and speakers on Muslim life in America, all free of charge to the Afghan public.
Two potential sites were identified for the Nuristan Lincoln Center, a school in the Nengarach village and the Nurgurum District Center.
If either site is suitable, the Lincoln Center will be fully funded by the U.S. Embassy (if the local government or district government will donate the space).
Once a location is established, the embassy will install all the computer equipment, stock the library and hire a staff to run the center.
“Lincoln centers have been tremendously successful in both the east and north regions of Afghanistan, because they are a place where students go to gain access to a new world view,” said Kathryn Hoffman, foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State. “The center also allows the PRT to do a lot of programming, like discussions on the meaning of elections and the role of women in society. We are really lucky that our Lincoln Center [will be] fully funded in the coming year.”
Lincoln Centers have been established in the major cities of Afghanistan. In Kabul, there’s a Lincoln Center at the Kabul University and there are also plans to place one at the women’s garden in the city.
“In some of the remote regions in Afghanistan there aren’t any internet cafés or even internet access, so the idea is to get into some of the more remote areas and create a place that provides students with English language programs, other types of programs and internet access,” Frej said.
The U.S. Embassy plans on establishing at least ten more Lincoln Centers around Afghanistan before the end of 2010.
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