By Army Pfc. Derek L. Kuhn
Special to American Forces Press Service
June 16, 2009 - With the background melodies of a sitar, rabab and bongo drums filling the air, a siren-like voice beckoned the crowd to dance to the unique Afghan sounds. And like ancient mariners in Homer's Odyssey, they responded. More than 350 coalition forces members and Afghans took part in the cultural festivities of Afghan Night Live on Bagram Air Field on June 13.
The standing room only event included live Afghan music, dancers, and food and was meant to show servicemembers some of the culture they are helping to rebuild.
"This cultural event is...to build a bridge between the Afghan community and other nations," said Abdul Bahrami, cultural advisor and director of the event.
Music and dance may be that bridge. Many times throughout the evening, servicemembers took part by dancing with performers during songs.
Bahrami said rhythm is everywhere and in everyone, and seeing coalition members join his countrymen in dance filled him with pride.
U.S. Army Pfc. Tiffany Brown, a Jefferson, Ga., native and a cook for the 32nd Transportation Battalion out of Ft. Carson, Colo., was moved by the energy of the event and joined in the dancing.
"It was awesome to dance and interact with the performers," Brown said. Others agreed.
"It was cool to see everyone dance together," said U.S. Army Spc. Paul Miranda, a human resource specialist with the 6th Brigade, 36th Military Intelligence Battalion out of Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. "It was great to see their culture and to get the chance to experience it first-hand."
Many thought the appreciation gained for Afghan culture at the event will foster better understanding and interaction between the two cultures.
"This event has opened eyes, and will help soldiers understand and appreciate how Afghans act," said Miranda, an Austin, Texas, native. "The culture is very welcoming and nice."
Some felt the appreciation gained for Afghan culture at the event will provide an avenue for better understanding and interaction.
"I think it is important for the military to understand the culture here, because then it will help us relate better to the Afghans," Brown said. "These are happy people and they know how to have a good time."
(Army Pfc. Derek L. Kuhn serves with the 40th Public Affairs Detachment).