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2013.07.25 > For Immediate Release
contact: Charley Reed - University Communications
phone: 402.554.2129 - email: unonews@unomaha.edu

contact: Shane Pekny - International Studies and Programs
phone: 402.554.2673 - email: spekny@unomaha.edu

UNO Prepares Military, Civilians for Work in Afghanistan

Omaha - Since 2008, more than 600 civilian and military personnel, including trainees from federal agencies and non-governmental organizations, have completed the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s (UNO) Afghanistan Immersion Seminar. On Friday, July 26, the 41st class will graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to work in Afghanistan.

Trainees in the UNO program study Afghanistan’s history and diverse cultures, as well as modern challenges, and learn to speak conversational Dari, or Afghan Persian. The experience gives them the necessary context for successfully working with Afghans in their home country.

“The news people read about Afghanistan is only part of the story,” said Thomas E. Gouttierre, dean of International Studies & Programs at UNO. “Our trainees dig into the rich history and diverse cultures of Afghanistan, learning to appreciate today’s struggles from an Afghan point of view.”

Gouttierre, who is also director of UNO’s Center for Afghanistan Studies, brings more than four decades of service and travel throughout the country to the program. Other seminar lecturers include UNO staff who were born and raised in Afghanistan and have worked extensively on refugee, education and development issues in the country.

There are 16 trainees from various agencies in the current class. Paul H., a U.S. Navy commander, decided to enroll in the Immersion Seminar after taking an assignment at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. He said the cultural insights have been most helpful for his work.

“We can’t just assume that our cultural values apply in Afghanistan,” Paul said. “The Immersion Seminar will help us interact with Afghans, and it also explains how certain ethnic groups interact. Without that understanding, we can easily get frustrated.”

The mission of the UNO Center for Afghanistan Studies is to empower Afghans to develop their economy and civil society, as well as to study and promote the uniquely beautiful cultures of Afghanistan.

The Center began its work four decades ago in 1973 and has served Afghans in times of war and peace through printing textbooks; training teachers and journalists; and advising U.S. government officials.

For more information on the Afghanistan Immersion Seminar at UNO, contact International Studies & Programs at 402.554.2376, or visit http://world.unomaha.edu/cas.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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