Badakhshan Cultural Performance: Afghan - Tajik students host inaugural performance in Khorog
On 29 January 2011, Afghan and Tajik learners from the University of Central Asia’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (UCA SPCE) in Khorog, conducted the first ever joint event involving youth from Afghan Badakhshan and Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO).
Organised by the learners themselves, the Badakhshan cultural performance was delivered to a full audience at the newly reconstructed Khorog theatre. Senior Khorog government representatives, scholars from the culture and education departments of Khorog State University, Afghan Consulate representatives, international and local non-governmental organizations, and the local community were present. The event was well-received and tickets sold out beforehand.
Through the USAID-UCA programme Cross-border Vocational Education in Badakhshan (CVEB), 60 Afghan learners from various Badakhshan province districts in Afghanistan are currently enrolled in professional courses at SPCE Khorog. This initiative has allowed Afghan and Tajik learners to interact through English Clubs, roundtable discussions, and campus events. The Badakhshan culture performance is an outcome of this interaction and was proposed jointly by Afghan and Tajik learners to demonstrate cultural diversity and common traditions from the Badakhshan region.
Masters of Ceremonies, Noor Agho, an English programme learner from Afghanistan, and Sono Gayosova, an accounting learner from Tajikistan, presided over the event, which featured demonstrations of cuisines from both sides of the border, including by SPCE’s Kyrgyz learners from the Murghab region in Tajikistan, performances of wedding ceremonies by Afghan and Tajik learners, traditional music, dances, and folklore. Learners also performed theatrical pieces and recited Afghan and Tajik poetry, and one Afghan learner presented his original work of poetry on life and study in Tajikistan.
In his address, Mr Ghulomnabi Sipos, Senior Representative from the Afghanistan Consulate, remarked that the governments welcomed the cooperation between the two neighbours, and supported the future development of such events and activities. “Cultural collaboration can serve as the basis for the development of economic cooperation between the two Badakhshans,” Mr Sipos noted.
The performance engaged people from throughout the Khorog community; for many the common traditions and rituals shared by peoples divided by the Panj River were a surprising and eye-opening discovery. Afghan guests expressed that beyond learners, poets, painters, singers, dancers, and artistes from the two countries should continue such events, providing common ground for encouraging cooperation between countries. As an Afghan learner expressed in his performance, “the River Panj that divides our countries should be recognised as a blue thread, connecting the people of this region.”
About the projects: CVEB is a two-year initiative funded by USAID and designed to foster cross-border cooperation and employment opportunities between the Afghan Province of Badakhshan and the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) in Tajikistan. Through this grant, SPCE provides Training of Trainers in Technical and Vocational Education (TVET) to 30 learners in Faizabad and 60 Afghans were awarded scholarships to enrol in certificate programmes and short-term courses in English, IT, and Bookkeeping/Cashier at the SPCE Khorog campus.
Since 2007, 27 Afghan learners, the majority from Badakhshan, have received certificates for courses in English, IT, and Tourism. SPCE also provided capacity building programmes in teaching of IT to over 200 learners and English to over 23 learners at the Teacher Training college in Afghan Shegnan district, supported by the Aga Khan Foundation Afghanistan.