Public Diplomacy meets social practice – Cookie Monster errrr…..Grover and full-body burqas

Posted in Uncategorized by dilettanteventures on 05/26/2013

Foreign Projects Give Afghans Fashion, Skate Park and Now 10,000 Balloons – Rod Nordland

Speaking of the project, Mr. Arboleda quoted his critics as saying, “It’s plain silly, what a waste of time and money and resources.” His previous claim to fame was a New York City installation that some thought advocated the assassination of President Obama and former Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, which got him hauled in for questioning by the Secret Service. “I get e-mails saying, why not give away food or health care or things that are, quote-unquote, more meaningful, substantial or lasting?”

“As part of this program, prison inmates, soldiers, police, school children, youth, mental hospital patients, and Taliban will be all taken through yogic practices and meditation; this will foster greater peace,” Mr. Alborzian said on the group’s Web site.

That program was self-financed, but many odd projects have attracted serious support. In 2011, Travis Beard, an Australian musician, put on what he described as the world’s first “stealth rock concert,” aimed at teaching Afghan youth how to “rock out.” The stealth was essential; the last time an Afghan rock band performed in public, earlier this month, its members were attacked by the police, who interpreted their gyrations as evidence of public drunkenness.

Some bizarre-sounding aid groups have done very well. Skateistan, an Australian aid group that teaches skateboarding to Afghan children, would not seem to make much sense in a country where even the potholes have potholes. But it built a skate park and provided schooling and lunches for street children here, attracting support from several European governments.

Looking for a way to spend some of the $35 million U.S.A.I.D. grant to promote the rule of law, DPK Consulting, an American contractor for the agency, arranged an event to hand out kites and comic books to children. The kites were festooned with slogans about gender equality and rule of law that most of the attendees could not read. Police officers guarding the event stole many of the kites, beating some of the children, while fathers snatched kites from their girls to give to the boys.

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