A Note from Founder Christine Drinan
I think every travel experience leaves its mark on us. This past year, with borders to far-flung places mostly closed, I took the opportunity to travel like a sane human being. By that, I mean I explored beautiful destinations like Jamaica, Turks & Caicos, and St. Lucia. Essentially, if there was an open border to a country I had not been to, I crossed it. The experience of traveling to these places brought me closer and, I hope, made me more helpful to you, our Galavante community. If you need a restaurant recommendation on Turks, I’m your girl.
There is one travel experience though, that continues to be at the forefront of my mind, especially with the current news. In 2019, I began my work with the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) in Kabul. This experience changed my life and crystallized the path forward for me. I’ve worked with many incredible NGOs and charitable organizations around the world. I continue to do so in the places I visit on my journey to reach all 195 countries. However, AUAF, and the women there I have the privilege to mentor, have formed a lasting and deep connection to me. Travel transforms; from this experience, I found purpose for my place in the world and the platform I’ve built through Galavante.
As you know, the US is withdrawing its troops rapidly from Afghanistan, after 20+ years of war. It’s hard to say what we achieved, and it’s not my place or focus to do so. What I will say, though, is that AUAF is the legacy the US leaves behind. When AUAF began 15+ years ago, it had 48 students, one of whom was a woman. It’s not surprising in a country where only 6% of females have any education at all. However, today, women make up almost 50% of the 2,500 student population. Former First Lady Laura Bush was spot on when she established AUAF; the only way to fight terrorism and change culture is through education.
I admire the bravery of the students and especially women who are desperate to complete their education at AUAF. This is a world-class university whose students are the future leadership of Afghanistan. When the last US troops leave the country this September, AUAF will continue. And I will continue my work in Afghanistan, both as a guest lecturer at AUAF and as a voice in media for the extraordinary women who are fighting for their human rights. In the coming months, I am looking forward to sharing the projects I have the privilege to work on with AUAF and in the country of Afghanistan. I’m going to do my part to change the world.