January 20, 2011
By Jason Misner
COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER, HDSB STAFF
Robert Bateman High School’s life skills students got a lesson in what residents eat in Afghanistan and so much more, thanks to a presentation by the father-daughter team of Grade 11 Bateman student Sarah Dovey and former longtime local broadcast reporter, Ian Dovey.
As part of her cooking class, Sarah prepared a presentation about the kind of food Afghans eat since her dad has been working in the war-torn country for the past three years as a journalist for International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Having returned home for a holiday in early January, Dovey was a guest speaker during his daughter’s Afghan food presentation.
Sarah explained the different foodstuffs the locals consume, including halal and avocados. But the opportunity allowed Dovey the chance to educate students about the way of life in Afghanistan – including bringing in Afghan artifiacts – and how appreciative he is to call Canada home.
Dovey has been working with ISAF in Bamyan province. His duties include gathering information and writing stories that promote good governance, development and security. As a result of his work in the country, he has learned a lot about the people and their lifestyle. He explained Afghans, with a plastic sheet laid out on the floor, eat while sitting on pillows and using no utensils.
“Your drink is water or green tea,” he explained. “We drink a lot of tea over there. Dessert is usually a plate of fruit.”
He said the way Afghans eat is much different and more labour-intensive than here in North America,
“What’s very different about Afghanistan compared to here is, while your mom and dad go to a grocery store to get most of their food, in Afghanistan, they grow what they eat. If they have a bad growing season, they don’t eat.”
To help students better understand life in at-times very dusty Afghanistan, Dovey brought in pieces of clothing to show what men and women wear. He showed them a burka and a man’s hat, called a pakol. It helped students understand Afghan customs.
Dovey also passed around an encased camel spider, about the size of a hand, the likes of which he and others have to be wary of while living in the land-locked south-central Asian country.
Dovey noted the work/school week in Afghanistan is six days as opposed to our five day schedule.
Despite some of their hardships, Dovey stressed the hospitable nature of Afghans.
“If you go to somebody’s house, no matter how poor they are, they will make sure you well looked after. They are very, very nice people in spite of all the problems they are having in that country.”
Afghanistan has been embroiled in battle for several years as part of the war on terrorism led by coalition forces that include Canadian military personnel.
Grade 9 student Kennedy Thorne said she is even more thankful she lives in Canada after listening to Dovey.
“I feel lucky I live here, that I should respect everything,” she said, noting the difference of freedoms women have in Canada compared to women living in Afghanistan.
Teacher Doug Cooper was very excited by Dovey’s visit and the perspective he brought to the Bateman class about another country.
“I think he brought a new awareness of their culture, traditions, clothing, language, the terrain (geography), the history of the country and the food and related food products,” he said.