Colorado State University, as part of its goal of increasing global relations, has welcomed three agriculture educators from Afghanistan to a fellowship program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture known as the Borlaug Fellows Program.
The three fellows are all experts in their professional fields. Mohammad Asif Bawary is the Dean Faculty of Agriculture at Nangarhar University, Farid Ahmmad Afzali is the Range Management Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture and Mohammad Safar Noori is a lecturer at the University of Takhar.
Agriculture in Afghanistan is still developing. Much of the infrastructure has been destroyed or is no longer functioning because of the war, so Bawary, Afzali and Noori want to learn as much as they can while in the United States to help with the rehabilitation of their agricultural system. Their agricultural production has also faced many setbacks from floods and droughts.
All three fellows are looking to improve the future for their country with their work here in the United States. They speak passionately about their work and the good they can bring to Afghanistan.
"We hope to try again with rehabilitation," Bawary said, referring to the past successes that have been negated by years of civil strife and war.
The Colorado State program is directed by Richard Tinsley, emeritus professor in the Soil and Crop Sciences Department in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State, along with the Office of International Programs.
"The purpose of the fellowship program is the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience in the field of agriculture," Tinsley said. "Global integration is a key issue in the agriculture science program at Colorado State."
Martha Denney, director of International Education at Colorado State, said this fellowship program is important to the university because it increases awareness of life outside the United States.
"The U.S. and Afghanistan are intimately involved at this time, yet here in Colorado we really know little about the difficult lives that their people lead as a result of the actions of some of their citizens and the response from the larger world community," Denney said.
Raising global awareness and interaction is a key objective of the university, according to Colorado State’s Strategic Plan.
A major goal for the university is to provide the students with distinctive international experiences and broaden their exposure to today’s global challenges through institutional partnerships and the presence of more international scholars on campus to prepare students to live in an interdependent world.
The three fellows, who arrived in Colorado on Sept. 9, will be here until Oct. 14.
While in Fort Collins, they will spend their time working with mentors in the agriculture departments at Colorado State during the week and visiting farms once a week.
Despite their busy schedules, Bawary, Afzali and Noori still manage to make time to call home and check in with their families. Around 9 a.m. (7:30 p.m. in Afghanistan), the three men all patiently wait their turns to use the Internet and a Web cam to speak with the families who are an ocean away.
Not one expressed any sense of nervousness about leaving their country to come study here; in fact, they are very appreciative of the opportunities the program offers.
"We will use these experiences effectively," Bawary said.
When asked to comment on what differences they noticed between Colorado State’s campus and the universities back home, they said that there are thousands of differences, too many to begin commenting on.
In spite of the countless differences, Denney is hoping that this program will continue to foster a good relationship with the people of Afghanistan.
"The fellows still feel a strong connection to us and are happy to renew this important and enduring relationship," Denney said. "It is the type of relationship that will help us rebuild trust and understanding at a time when it is sorely needed."