What’s It Like In...

What’s It Like In...

What’s it like in…Afghanistan? Or in Iraq? Or wherever your mom, dad or loved one happens to be deployed? No doubt they’re experiencing lots of different things across the globe, from the languages they’re hearing to the foods they’re tasting and the sights they’re seeing. Can you imagine what would it be like if you were there? Find out a little more about how kids like you spend their time in some of the countries where troops are stationed.

AFGHANISTAN

Where is it?

Afghanistan, located in the center of Asia, is surrounded by a number of other countries, including Pakistan, Iran and China. The capital city of Afghanistan is Kabul.

How big is it? How far?

The entire country is about the size of Texas, and if you were in standing in that state, you’d be a little over 7,700 miles from Afghanistan itself. That’s like traveling from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco, back and forth and back again once more!

What’s the weather like?

Afghanistan is very hot and dry in the summers, but really cold in the winters, especially in the eastern part of the country. The land is mostly made up of desert and valleys, with jagged mountains that are covered with snow year round.

What time is it there?

From the Central time zone in the United States, Afghanistan is 9.5 hours ahead – so when you’re eating lunch at noon in Texas, it’s 9:30 at night in Afghanistan and kids there are probably already in bed!

What’s cooking?

Afghanistan offers many tasty and interesting dishes, including naan (pronounced “NAH-n”), a flat bread shaped somewhat like a Frisbee, and kabobs, which are pieces of lamb or beef stacked on a skewer, then cooked on a grill.

What do people wear?

Kids and adults in Afghanistan wear a mix of Western clothes like you wear and some traditional pieces such as embroidered coats and hats. Kids dress pretty casually for the most part, in jeans or cotton pants, though girls might wear a two-piece knee length dress with some sort of trouser underneath.

What are the schools like?

Education is free at all levels in Afghanistan, with the main portion lasting for six years, followed by another six years that’s sort of like a combination of middle school and high school. Boys and girls are taught separately, and there are usually about 60 students in one class. The school year takes place from early March through November in the colder areas of the country, but from September to June in warmer regions.

What do kids do for fun?

The national sport of Afghanistan is bozkashi (pronounced “BAHZ-ka-SHE”), a team game played on horseback that’s a little bit like polo played here in the states. Kite flying is also very popular, as is kite fighting.  In kite fighting, the strings are covered with a mixture of powdered glass and rice glue. The object is to use your kite to cut through the strings of an opponent’s kite so it falls down.

Kids in Afghanistan also grow up telling or hearing stories about Mullah Nasrudin (pronounced “moo-la NAZHJ-rue-deen”), a popular character in the Middle East similar to Mother Goose.  Some of these rhymes and folktales are used to teach lessons while others are told just for fun.

How do you say hello?

There are two official languages of Afghanistan: Pashto and Dari. Salaam (pronounced “sa-LOM”) means hello in both languages.

IRAQ

Where is it?

Iraq is in the center of Asia, bordered by Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Two large rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, outline this very fertile region.

How big is it? How far?

Iraq is about twice the size of Idaho. If you flew non-stop from our nation’s capital in Washington, D.C. to Iraq’s capital in Baghdad, it would take you half a day in the air to cover the nearly 7,000 miles between the two cities.

What’s the weather like?

In the summertime, Iraq is extremely dry and hot, often without a cloud in the sky to offer protection from the sun. During the winters, temperatures range from mild to cold, though it’s more frigid in the northern mountain regions, where heavy levels of snow can cause severe flooding once it melts in the spring.

What time is it there?

From the Central time zone in the United States, Iraq is eight hours ahead, so when you’re having lunch, kids in Iraq are having dinner.

What’s cooking?

Iraqis eat three meals a day, with the last meal usually occurring later in the evening, around 8 p.m. Dolma (pronounced “dole-MA”) is a favorite food of the region, made of ground meat (such as lamb) mixed with rice and chopped peppers, then wrapped in a grape leaf. Also, orange soda is extremely popular in Iraq.

What do people wear?

Iraqis who live in larger cities tend to wear clothes like yours, but those who live in rural areas often choose more traditional pieces, especially young women who might be seen in a veil and dark robe known as an abaya (prounounced “ah-BYE-ya”) which covers the body from head to toe. Underneath, young women usually wear colorful dresses – quite a contrast from the dark cloak seen by outsiders. More traditional wear for young men would include a caftan, an ankle-length robe with sleeves.

What are the schools like?

Kids in Iraq are only required to go to school through the sixth grade. A national exam then determines whether or not they will continue with additional education. At this point, for those who pass, boys and girls are then split up and taught separately. The school year begins in October and ends in June, fairly similar to how it works in most schools in the United States.

What do kids do for fun?

Soccer is very popular in Iraq, as are strategy games such as backgammon or chess. Kids tend to play in larger groups as the Iraqi people, young and old, are very social. Swimming and fishing in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers during the summer is also a common pastime, along with craft-making including pottery and weaving.

How do you say hello?

While there are a number of languages spoken in Iraq, the most common is Arabic. An informal way of saying hello in this language would be halaw (pronounced “ha-LAW”). However, it is actually more common to greet people with the words al-salamu alaykum, (pronounced “ul-sigh-la-LAY-hum”), which means “peace be upon you.” 

KUWAIT

Where is it?

Kuwait hugs the Persian Gulf and is surrounded by Iraq on its north side and Saudi Arabia around the south end. The land is primarily made up of an oil-rich desert.

How big is it? How far?

Kuwait is similar in size to the state of New Jersey. Around 6,500 miles separates New York City from Kuwait City, the country’s capital, which is about the equivalent of driving across the United States and back.

What’s the weather like?

A dry desert climate, Kuwait has intensely hot summers starting in May and lasting through October. Winters are short and cool, averaging a high of 40 to 50 degrees.

What time is it there?

Kuwait is eight hours ahead from the Central time zone in the United States, so they get to celebrate things like the New Year’s Eve countdown before we do!

What’s cooking?

Food plays a central role in the lives of Kuwaitis and is often served family style on large plates for sharing. Their national dish is called machboos, sometimes also spelled majboos (pronounced “maach-BOOS”), which is made of chicken, mutton or fish set over or mixed in a large quantity of rice. Teas are also very popular, particularly chai or black tea served with a spice called cardamom.

What do people wear?

Younger people like to wear the same types of clothes as young people in the U.S., but some also incorporate traditional items. Guys might be seen wearing a dishdasha, a floor-length robe with a center opening, along with a headdress that consists of three parts.

What are the schools like?

There are four different levels of schooling in Kuwait: kindergarten or nursery, which last two years; primary for five years; a four-year intermediate period; and finally, a secondary level that lasts for three years. All education, including higher levels, is provided for free. As it is in most places across the United States, the Kuwaiti school year runs from September through June.

What do kids do for fun?

Though boys and girls tend to play separately in Kuwait, both enjoy sporting games such as bowling, tennis and basketball, along with a version of tag known as Al Ghomaid (pronounced “AL-go-MADE”) where the person who is “it” is blindfolded.

How do you say hello?

Kuwaitis actually greet each other by shaking hands or kissing cheeks, but those who prefer a salutation might say gowwa (pronounced “go-WAA”) which is a way of saying “hello” in Arabic, the official language of the country. English is also widely spoken in the area as well.

THE PHILIPPINES

Where is it?

The Philippines is actually a cluster of more than 7,000 tropical islands that sit in the Pacific Ocean in Southeast Asia. It has more than 22,000 miles of coastline.

How big is it? How far?

The islands that make up the Philippines would take up about the same space as the state of Arizona. The capital city of Manila sits around 7,300 miles from Los Angeles, California – so it is definitely too far away to swim there!

What’s the weather like?

From May through October, the hot, humid climate is hit with monsoons (which are like super-intense rainstorms), but things let up a bit from December to February. The area also experiences many minor earthquakes – up to 20 a day! – and volcanic eruptions which are actually what formed most of the islands that exist there today.

What time is it there?

The Philippines is 11 hours ahead of the Central time zone in the United States, so when you’re getting ready for bed, kids over there are just starting their day.

What’s cooking?

Philippine food is very hearty, but not terribly spicy, built on staples such as fried salted fish and rice. Soup and broths also play a big role in the cuisine, so the table setting is usually a spoon and fork, not fork and knife. In more rural areas, some Filipinos eat with their hands, a practice known as kamayan (pronounced “KUH-my-yan”). Also, halo-halo is a popular dessert in the area, made from ice, milk, various local fruits and ice cream.

What do people wear?

Most kids where the same kind of modern, conventional clothes as you might see in the United States, but some mix up their outfits with traditional pieces such as the barong tagalon (pronounced “bah-RON tag-a-LONG”), a thin, transparent dress worn with a shirt underneath it by men.

What are the schools like?

In the Philippines, most classes start in June and end in March. Elementary school runs from first through sixth or seventh grade depending on the school, while high school is a four-year program.

What do kids do for fun?

Sports are very popular in the Philippines, with basketball being the most favorite, both on amateur and professional levels. Kids also enjoy playing traditional games such as luksung baka (pronounced “look-son bah-ka”), a jumping game, and patintero (pronounced “pah-tin-tear-oh”), a form of tag. Yo-yos are also commonly seen in the area, and the namesake of the toy is believed to have Filipino origins.

How do you say hello?

Filipino and English are the official languages of the country, but there are also 170 individual living languages still spoken as well. In Filipino, “hello” can be said as halo or huy, but many locals also greet each other with mabuhay, (pronounced “ma-boo-hey”), which means “welcome” or “long live.”

DJIBOUTI

Where is it?

Djibouti (pronounced “jih-BOOT-ee”) is located on the horn of Africa, bordered by the countries of Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia, as well as the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

How big is it? How far?

The area is just a bit smaller than Massachusetts. The country’s capital, also named Djibouti, is 7,000 miles from New York City, which is like going from the Big Apple to the North Pole and back!

What’s the weather like?

A hot, arid climate, temperatures in Djibouti soar to the 100s from May through September, with a somewhat cooler season from mid-October to mid-April. In the Goda Mountains area of the country, it’s usually mild year-round. The soil covering the land in Djibouti is mostly rocky and sandy, leaving only 10% or so for farming purposes.

What time is it there?

Djibouti is eight hours ahead of the Central time zone in the United States, so when you’re getting out of school, kids over there are likely already fast asleep.

What’s cooking?

In more populated cities, the menu is influenced by African and French cuisine, and often includes yogurt sauces and lentils. The souk (marketplace) in Djibouti is also well known for offering spicy, oven-baked fish.

What do people wear?

Many kids and young adults wear simple modern clothes such as jeans and t-shirts, though there are traditional elements added at times as well. Guys might put on a sarong-like garment called macawiis (pronounced “mah-cow-wees”) while ladies sometimes wear a dirac (pronounced “der-rack”), which is a long, light dress thrown over a slip.

What are the schools like?

Education in Djibouti traces back to France and involves several stages that match the typical American school system, including pre-primary, primary (which is like elementary school in the States), middle education (similar to junior high) and secondary (comparable to high school). Kids are required to attend for at least nine years, and classes start in September and end in June

What do kids do for fun?

Most kids come from families of six or seven siblings so there’s always someone to play with. Arts and crafts are also very popular in this area, especially weaving and pottery.

How do you say hello?

The official languages of Djibouti are French and Arabic, though Somali is the most widely spoken (yet not often written.) Afar is also used in certain areas. Mahisse (pronounced “ma-HE-see”) means “hello” in Afar, but there are a number of ways to say hi in Somali, including nabat (pronounced “nah-BOT”) and see tahay (pronounced “sea-tu-hey”).

*Note: Pronunciations sourced through http://www.forvo.com, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ and http://www.byki.com. History and country information sourced through Encyclopedia Brittanica

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