Afghan officials visit Richmond

Published: Jul. 13, 2011 at 8:45 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 13, 2011 at 9:13 PM EDT
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RICHMOND (WWBT)-   Afghanistan is a place that has been ripe with war for the last several decades. Rebuilding the country is a big job, something that has been unsuccessfully attempted many different times.

A group of leaders from the war-torn country are here to Virginia to get a glimpse at what could be possible in their homeland.

It is a unique sound in the halls of Virginia's Capitol. The sound is that of an interpreter telling the story of the historic building in a native Afghani tongue.

Fourteen delegates from Afghanistan, who represent everything from women's issues to the country's Supreme Court, are getting a firsthand look at how Virginia's government works.

It's an experience that will be invaluable to them when they return home.

"(We will learn) How can we replicate the applicable parts of those experiences in our country," said Khan Agha Dawoodzi, an official in Afghanistan's Bureau of Reconstruction & Development.

It is no easy task.

Afghanistan is a country with a vibrant and ancient history, but it is a history filled with war -- wars that have made it difficult to establish a stable society.

Much different than what they find here in the United States.

"They see how much we have come in just several hundred years," said Sepideah Mohsenian, an education exchange coordinator with Relief International.  "It's a stark contrast for them."

Part of the experience is to see buildings like the Capitol, built by Thomas Jefferson, still being used to conduct the people's business several hundred years later.

"They know that their history could have these buildings standings if it wasn't havocked by war," said Mohsenian.

But it wasn't just buildings.

The delegation, made of members of the country's judicial system, was able to fire questions at Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli who learned just as much as his Afghan guests did.

"The journey to build a government is really a fascinating reminder of just how much we've got in this country and how our history has really blessed us," said Cuccinelli.

It's an experience, which might play a small role in finally giving the people of Afghanistan long term peace and prosperity.

The delegation's trip is paid for by the U.S. State Department. They are guests of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics in cooperation with Relief international.

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