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William Podlich took a two-year leave of absence from teaching at Arizona State University and began a stint with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to teach in the Higher Teachers College in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he served as t he “Expert on Principles of Education.” His wife Margaret and two daughters, Peg and Jan, came with him. Then teenagers, the Podlich sisters attended high school at the American International School of Kabul, which catered to the children of American and other foreigners living and working in the country. Outside of higher education, Dr. Podlich was a prolific amateur photographer and he documented his family’s experience and da ily life in Kabul, rendering frame after frame of a serene, idyllic Afghanistan. Only about a decade before the 1979 Soviet invasion, Dr. Podlich and his family experienced a thriving, modernizing country. These images, taken from 1967-68, show a stark contrast to the war torn scenes associated with Afghanistan today. “When I look at my dad’s photos, I remember Afghanistan as a country with thousands of years of history and culture,” recalls Peg Podlich. “I t has been a gut-wrenching experience to watch and hear about the profound suffering, which has occurred in Afghanistan during the battles of war for nearly 40 years. Fierce and proud yet fun loving people have been beaten down by terrible forces.”
1. "I grew up in Tempe, Arizona, and when my dad offered my younger sister, Jan, and me the chance to go with him and our mother to Afghanistan, I was excited about the opportunity. I would spend my senior year in high school in some exotic country, not in ordinary Tempe... Of course, there were loads of cultural differences between Arizona and Afghanistan, but I had very interesting and entertaining experiences. People always seemed friendly and helpful. I never got into any real difficulties or scrapes, even though I was a fairly clueless teenager! Times were more gentle back then." - Peg Podlich (Pictured at right).
2. Kabul Gorge or locally known as Tang-i-Gharoo which led to the Darae Maiee-Par (Flying Fish Valley). This is the highway which connects Kabul with the provincial city of Jalalabad.
As I recall. . my family took a public.Peg Podlich. "In the spring of 1968. The road was rather bumpy in that direction.3. before we left Kabul.we had a safe trip. long-distance Afghan bus through the Khyber Pass to visit Pakistan (Peshawar and Lahore). it was somewhat harrowing at certain points with a steep drop off on one side and a mountain straight up on the other! I remember that." . my father paid for a young man to go around the bus with a smoking censor to bless the bus or ward off the evil eye. I guess it worked . too.
taking a family trip on a bus going from Kabul. Pakistan. in the sun glasses. . Afghanistan to Peshawar.4. Peg Podlich.
.5. Guard duty at the King's Palace in Kabul.
near Karte-Seh)." .6. Bahir (Left). Podlich's counterpart at the Higher Teachers College of Kabul.Peg Podlich . Mr. and an Afghan teacher (Right). located at Seh Aqrab Road and Pul-e-Surkh Road (on the west side of Kabul. "The Higher Teachers College was a two-year institution for training college-level teachers. Dr.
the girls were not allowed to wear a chadri (burka) on their way to secondary school. Afghan girls coming home from school. Able young women attended college. and although girls (and boys) wore uniforms.7." .Peg Podlich . were educated up to the high school level. as did the men. "Afghan girls. as well as boys.
.8. A Gas Station.
. The Soviet-built tunnel opened in 1964.9. located in Parwan province. The Salang Tunnel. is a link between northern and southern Afghanistan crossing the Hindu Kush mountain range under the difficult Salang Pass.
S. .10. invasion of Afghanistan. (L-R) Jan and Peg Podlich at Paghman Gardens. which was destroyed during the years of war before the 2001 U.
11. "If you look at photos of the devastation of Europe or Asia after WWII and compare them with what you see nowadays or from pre-war times. King's Hill in Paghman Gardens.. It is important to know that we have more in common with people in other lands than what separates us.Peg Podlich . Perhaps looking at these old pictures when Afghanistan was a land of peace can encourage folks to see Afghanistan and its people as they were and could be. you can get a similar feeling while looking at these photos from Afghanistan in the late 1960s.." .
12. Young Afghans walking home. .
with beautiful mountains in the distance. my family lived in a house in Shari-Nau. often sunny. My mother would say that Kabul reminded her of Denver: about a mile in altitude. "For the year that I was in Kabul. Colorado in the 1940s. Since I was born [in Arizona]. A residential hillside in Kabul.13." .Peg Podlich. . it was very easy for me to appreciate the stark beauty of the landscape there in Afghanistan. I thought it seemed somewhat like Arizona because of the arid landscape and lack of rain. up the road from the Shari-Nau Park.Ä˜ My parents had lived in Denver.
A group of young Afghans share tea and music.14. .
.15. a sweet dessert. Frying jilabee.
16 Sisters pose for a photograph in Kabul. .
17. Chemistry lesson in a mud-walled classroom. .
S. Parking lot of the American International School of Kabul (AISK).Peg Podlich . there were about 250 students attending AISK and 18 graduating seniors. The school no longer exists. AISK was located on the same campus that currently houses the American University of Afghanistan (on Darul-aman Rd in west Kabul)." . "AISK's last year was 1979. In 1967-68. so the school had a 20 year history. although alumni stay in touch through Facebook and hold reunions every few years at different cities around the U. The next reunion will be held in Boston in 2013.18.
. Masjid Shah-e-do Shamsheera in Kabul.19.
20. Afghan workers make a street repair in Kabul. .
.21. An Afghan Army parade through Kabul.
Afghan military band. .22.
New Year's Celebration.23. .
24. . Carving detail on an arch.
A mosque building stands west to the mausoleum of King Abdul Rahman -.in the present Zarnigar Park.25. Ministry of Culture. Today is stands as a store room for the Department of Preservation of Monuments. .which was the Bostan Serai built by King Habibullah (son of King Abdul Rahman). center of Kabul -.
the photographer. Students at the Higher Teachers College of Kabul where Dr. Scientific and Cultural Organization).26. Podlich. . worked and taught for two year's with UNESCO (United Nations Educational.
27. Young students dancing to music on a school playground. .
we were supervised by Indian ladies. around the hill to the west side of town. wearing saris of course. Jan and I ran out when the driver honked the horn.Peg Podlich . in Kabul a school bus stopped outside our home. On the bus. In Tempe.28." . American International School of Kabul (AISK). Senior English class. "I was in my senior year (my final year) of high school and I attended the American International School of Kabul out on Darul-aman Road. Peg Podlich is on the left. I had walked four blocks to school. and were driven with about 20 kids back through Kabul.
We proceeded into Kabul in a UN 'kombi' (kind of an old school SUV)..29. Depending on the country. green and maroon) ghosts that were wafting along the side of the road. but I can remember being amazed at the sight of colorful (dark blue. .Peg Podlich. We never called the garments burkas. My dad explained there were women underneath those chadris. Jan Podlich on a shopping trip in Istalif.. Jan in a short. My dad met us and was able to whisk us through the customs.. women practicing purdah (Islamic custom requiring women to cover up) wear different styles of coverings.. "We arrived in Kabul one sunshiny morning in June. which have different names. sleeveless dress and the woman to the right in a chadri (burka). I was tired." . and that some women had to wear them out in public.
.30. An Afghan boy decorates cakes.
he did not get burned by the fire. Young men cooking kebabs. Don't get me started about the smell and taste of lamb kebobs straight from the brazier! Yum! We had a naan oven not so far from the house. During that operation.. That was completely fascinating to watch the baker shape the naan. pick up a stick and ..Peg Podlich .31.in a quick.pick up the dough. the movements were that graceful. After the correct number of minutes." . he would reach in and tug the baked bread off the wall with the same stick and pull it right out. It was almost like a seated dance. make slits in it with his fingers. ". bend over the hole in the top of the oven and plunk the naan smack dab on the side wall of the oven. smooth motion . really. blazing away on the floor in the center of the oven.
. Men and boys washing and swimming in the Kabul River.32.
. The village was nearly destroyed by major fighting between "Northern Alliance" forces and the Taliban in the late 1990s.33. A group of Afghan men look out over Istalif. which was a centuries-old center of pottery making and other tourist attractions. about 18 miles northwest of Kabul.
34." . The two largest statues (not pictured here) were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. who did not really understand the history or technical achievement of those statues. even to someone like me. The statues were a magnificent sight. carved into the face of the cliff. "That was a bumpy.a UNESCO World Heritage Site.. rough trip. but I'll never forget how wide and green the valley was or how monumental those two Buddha statues were..Peg Podlich . A Buddha statue in Bamiyan Valley.
According to UNESCO.35. The site is also testimony to the tragic destruction by the Taliban of the two standing Buddha statues. which shook the world in March 2001. integrating various cultural influences into the Gandhara school of Buddhist art. "The cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley represent the artistic and religious developments which from the 1st to the 13th centuries characterized ancient Bakhtria. as well as fortified edifices from the Islamic period." . The area contains numerous Buddhist monastic ensembles and sanctuaries.
"My dad was a professor of Elementary Education. In Afghanistan he took half-frame color slides (on Kodachrome).. Throughout his adult life. Dr. . whenever he traveled around (in Arizona." . In 1967. Arizona from 1949 until he retired in 1981.. He had always said that since he had served in WWII. he continued to take pictures. Afghanistan at the Higher Teachers College.. he was hired by UNESCO as an Expert on Principles of Education..Peg Podlich.36. to Mexico and other places). and I believe he used a small Olympus camera. for a two-year stint in Kabul. at Arizona State University in Tempe. he wanted to serve in the cause of peace. because he was interested in social studies. specializing in teaching Social Studies. Bill Podlich on a hillside in Kabul.
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