Naval officer Jason Phillips was just finishing his doctoral dissertation at Johnson & Wales University when he got his orders. He was shipping out for a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
But Jason had his new education degree, and he was determined to use it. So he secured a position as senior academic advisor of Afghanistan’s Senior Command and Staff Course.
Jason became a teacher — but his students are not typical. They've experienced war and violence that cost them family, friends and a way of life that was “peaceful and beautiful,” he says.
Educational Leadership in a Wartorn CountryIn Afghanistan, Jason taught senior Afghan officers strategic leadership, international relations and sustainable strategies.
His goal? "Break the cycle of violence this country has endured for 30 years. "And it needs to happen soon, he says. “We study the strategic importance of international interconnectedness. What affects one country does indeed affect the security, well-being and development of other countries.”Teaching Hope in AfghanistanJason also works alongside ambassadors and professors on other initiatives, including a web-based mentoring program between Afghan students and institutions from more affluent countries.
And he organized an event for Afghan college students to create kites (which were outlawed during the Taliban regime) for children, along with clothing and toy donations. “Such an event can inspire hope,” he says — and there is hope.
“I see children walking, holding hands. As if everyone, from the older, battle-hardened combat veterans to the youngest children, holds hands to encourage each other."
“As if to say ‘We have been through a lot … but hold on. We are still here. There is still hope.'"