Secretary Clinton's 4th of July MessageAbout the Author: Brad Hanson serves with the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Herat Province, Afghanistan.
On July 2, 2009, the Lincoln Center in Herat hosted an interactive event to help educate our regular users and students about what Independence Day means to Americans. We had an audience of about 80 students, a majority of whom were high school age, and conducted the event almost entirely in English, giving the students a chance to practice their foreign language skills.
The students asked many thoughtful questions about how Americans celebrate July Fourth and inquired about the history behind the day. They wanted to know how young Americans celebrate Independence Day and whether they still honor the day as previous generations did.
I enlisted our summer intern, a Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES) alumnus, in responding to questions, since he had celebrated the Fourth of July three times with his American friends in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. His answers were superb, perhaps more meaningful to our audience than mine, coming from an Afghan their age who had actually experienced an American Independence Day himself.
Following the presentation, we gave the audience a short quiz, and the top 14 scorers received books in English. After the event was over, we continued to talk with the students who had additional comments and questions. An English lesson, modern technology, and an engaging alumnus of one of our most popular exchange programs, who really connected with his peers, proved to be a winning combination for an enjoyable and informative afternoon.
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