What Is

It is not unusual for me to weep for the deaths that occur in Afghanistan. But today I got to weep on Afghan soil with Afghan people.

We opened today's training with one of the participants offering in song a verse from the Koran in honor of the 64 people who died in yesterday's bombing. I was deeply moved by the heart and the connection. Tears streamed my face and as a group we shared the sorrow and fueled our passion to ignite creating a world we would rather live in. The day unfolded into a beautiful practice of Being Nonviolence. I am deeply excited by the visions that are being developed by the participants of this training who are creating projects based on serving human needs.

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Here I am.

Our team is fully immersed in the training we are offering to a group of about 20 Afghans, men and women, from all walks of life: journalists, professors, social workers, and government officials, to name a few. We haven't been keeping up with the blog as much during this time partially because of the demands on our time and energy, and partially because we've been wanting to preserve the sanctity of the retreat space. So, we'll wait to post photos from the training and specific stories until after the training ends on Thursday.

In the meantime, I'd like to use this space to celebrate the phenomenal team I'm working with!

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Being Really Alive

We're done with Day 3 of our training and I haven't written mainly for two reasons: one is that the Internet has been quite slow in the evening and two, I really wanted to meet my need for integrity with the participants in the training and not share too much about them, as we have been in a very sweet process of opening and connecting deeply from the heart. I do want to share how deeply touched I am by the willingness and dedication of each person in the training. Empathy Card Game

Yesterday, we played a game that I learned from Sura Hart and the Train for Life team, where we use cards that have needs words printed on them.

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love in any language

And then… 40 children came to play… I feel perplexed at how I will use words to describe or explain the life that now vibrates in me after spending the day with pure joy. One of the four million exciting surprises for me today were the children that came from the school for the deaf. I could speak their language! Knowing American Sign Language I was able to sign with them because Afghan sign is very close to ASL. I was reminded of the absolute serenity I feel when I get to hang out with people who are deaf. There was a moment when kids were finishing up a chalk art project and I sat off to the side to begin creating origami balls. This summer I learned from Sura Hart how to create origami balls that you can toss into the air and then pop them with your hand to send little paper butterflies flying. I sat silent as I constructed the balls. First the kids that are deaf joined me in the silence. Without words, only heart connection, we constructed these balls then tossed them to “POP” and send the butterflies flying. Giggles from a child who has never heard what they are suppose to sound like is one of the sweetest sounds I know. It is the reminder that even in silence love can be heard.

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Day for Children

Today was our first day "on the job"! We hosted 40+ children, a mix of school kids, street kids, and deaf children, for a day of learning nonviolent communication through making art. Energy was high throughout the day as we navigated our way through 3 languages (Dari, English, and Afghan sign language) and explored what it means to connect to others, feel feelings, and relate to universal human needs.

Regarding universal human needs, I'm proud to now be in the possession of a list of needs that was completely generated by the minds and voices of 40 enthusiastic Afghan children, ranging from ages 8-13, and from many different walks of life. I'm excited to show this to adult Americans who doubt that concepts like empathy, respect, love, kindness, giving, appreciation, happiness, and creativity could be universally understood and valued by children, especially across cultures. In fact, one of our Afghan organizers said later that he himself was shocked to hear the "advanced" concepts that his son was expressing during that activity.

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Kabul Sights

Guesthouse courtyard

The oasis outside our rooms. This is where we take tea and get sun. You can also hear the morning and evening prayers in the distance from here.

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“To know our capacity of nonviolence, we must know our capacity of violence.” – Mahatma Gandhi

And then… The world got very different. I joined the other women on the plane raising my scarf and positioning it cover all but my face before descending the stairs to the tarmac. The police requested that Jesse put the camera away so we did not film our entry into Afghanistan. Customs was quite easeful and soon we were in the parking lot being greeted by a tall smile named Said Agha. Said will be our driver while we are here. He is the brother of Khan who is the organizer of the NVC trainings. The drive from the airport to The Naween Guesthouse actualized our journey. Was it the sand and dirt that define the landscape of Kabul? Or was it the military presence? Or was it the family of three: a father with no eyes and a mother in a Burqa holding a solem toddler tapping on the glass of our vehicle? Or maybe it was the ease with which Said navigated through the chaotic traffic of cars, bicycles and people? Or the little girl running along side our van asking for something so she could eat? My small epiphany on this ride was that there is no way to judge this country. I found myself asking how could anyone comment about what Afghanistan is like or what the people here could possibly need without seeing it first hand. I am curious how anyone could comment with any certainty about the situation here by only having his or her information siphoned through CNN or NPR. Beginner’s Mind is the only thing that came immediately to me as a response to all I was taking in on our ride.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.” - Shunryu Suzuki


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From the air: vast deserts, as far as the eye can see, dusty hard-edged mountains, and dry, dry, dry.  On the flight over, I was reading the biography of Badshah Khan, the “Frontier Gandhi”, a Pashtan (I believe I read that 40% of Afghan people are Pashtan) who raised up...

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