I went to sleep all pumped up about the classes--have I ever told you how much I love doing what I do! As if my regular classes aren't exciting enough for me to head to campus, I had an additional incentive. A wonderful student had emailed me. Students emailing is not any man-bites-dog story, of course. But, this email had something special: "My mother would like to sit in on Monday's class; is that all right?" What an awesome idea! And what a coincidence that I had re-posted, from three years ago, the piece yesterday in which I had written:
I would love it if taxpayers routinely observed our classrooms and judged for themselves whether their hard-earned monies are being put to good use.This Monday morning, I woke up, as I always do, with NPR's news and commentaries. It was about an earthquake in Afghanistan. Can that country ever catch a break, right? The later reports suggest that it is no minor shake:
A massive earthquake rocked northeastern Afghanistan on Monday with devastating tremors rippling across the region, leaving more than 215 dead amid collapsed buildings, panicked stampedes and fears of landslides. Officials braced for even more casualties.Even for a person like me, who has been obsessed with the world's problems ever since I was a kid, I simply needed some kind of a good news about this country that has been cursed by the cosmos, it seems. I scanned for news about Afghanistan. There is some good news. You ready? You sitting down? Nothing breakable in your hand that could fall and shatter to pieces? Get this:
The full extent of damage and human toll was not immediately clear as rescue teams tried to assess areas hardest hit by the quake, which had a preliminary magnitude of 7.5 and was centered in a remote area of the Hindu Kush mountains.
Afghanistan have clinched a historic one-day international series over Zimbabwe after a 73-run victoryIn case you don't understand that sentence, that is about the game of cricket. Afghanistan beat Zimbabwe in a cricket match series. That is a huge piece of good news from that country. Why? Let me explain with what I wrote in one of my newspaper columns six years ago about Pakistan:
The unrest and violence in Afghanistan is intricately linked to Pakistan’s. So, is there any simple metric that we could employ in order to understand whether things are getting better or worse in Pakistan, such that it can then feed into the decision-making process regarding Afghanistan? Yes, there is: All we need to do is keep track of the game of cricket in Pakistan. As simple as that!What is good for the goose is good for Afghanistan, too. Well, ok, the games were not played in Afghanistan but in Zimbabwe. But, here is the best part: to use the American sport language, Afghanistan's cricket team is a minor league team and they beat the crap out of a powerful major league team.
The national team was only formed in 2001 and while they are yet to shock one of the eight leading international sides, a series win over an International Cricket Council full member represents a major landmark.Isn't that a small little ray of sunshine for you to feel good about Afghanistan?
Unable to play at home in war-torn Afghanistan, they were granted ODI status in 2011.
Of course, this won't be of comfort to the hundreds who died from the quake, and the thousands who have to deal with the destruction of property. We can help--by contributing to relief efforts, and by also wishing the country and its people well.