what a wonderful way to begin a new year. i was kindly invited to speak last evening at a holiday dinner held by a group of young dynamos at 650 Governor General Vanier Squadron (a local branch of a popular youth organization in Canada) in Moncton, New Brunswick. after a perfectly enjoyable meal and a series of Canadian Forces-esque traditions, i was given the floor for a few minutes to share some of my experiences in Afghanistan (click on the 'Dollar-a-Day' link in the sidebar for the blog entries). i am truly honoured to have participated and would relish the opportunity to do so again. the cadet programme in Canada is a quality enterprise without which i would not be who and where i am today.
seeing the reactions on the faces of some of these cadets as i shared a few anecdotes about life in some of the villages in which i work reminded me that what i see and learn about Afghanistan is vastly different from what most people hear about the country. i was reminded that i am in a very privileged position to be able to do this work and subsequently share my reflections with willing audiences.
i only hope something i said tonight might spur someone to take action, be it through learning more about Afghanistan and its people, spreading the word about the challenges facing Afghan youth, or even by someday becoming involved in human rights work anywhere around the world. at the very least i hope some of the cadets begin to realize how privileged they are to live in Canada and have quality education, health services and a fantastic youth organization at their disposal.
the underlying message of the evening: cadets, take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way and learn and act as much as you can. you can lead a meaningful life by constantly learning, having an open mind and sharing your knowledge and goodwill for those who are less fortunate, whoever or wherever they are.
many sincere thanks to the folks at 650 and the air cadet league for making my start to 2010 so meaningful!