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* NCPACS runs weekly poster presentation where students share anything relevant to their research activities. This post is a summary of Josh Wineera’s presentation on 22 May 2014.

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Training Us to Train Them: Observation of NZ Military advisors preparing to train Afghan army officer cadets
Josh Wineera

Imagine preparing yourself to train, coach, advise, or even mentor colleagues or adult students from a foreign country. Now what if they only speak in their native tongue, have a different culture, learn in totally different ways – oh and by the way are in the midst of a war or have just come out of one! Sound challenging? You bet, however military forces, the United Nations and even private companies are doing this very thing in some of the world’s most troublesome hotspots.

Earlier this year I was invited to observe and participate in the preparation of the second contingent of NZ Army trainers before they deployed to the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA) in Kabul Afghanistan. I was provided with the preparation syllabus and offered the chance to speak with the trainers for 2 two-hour sessions. I prepared two talks based on a cross-section of historical and contemporary literature. This included historical material of training foreign forces and educational/learning literature in cross-cultural settings. I also developed a rudimentary ‘back-casting scenario’ using key events that have occurred in Afghanistan in the past 20-years to illustrate the impact on education and learning of a fictitious Afghan cadet called ‘Arman’ (meaning Hope or Aspiration).

I suggested to the trainers that to successfully impart knowledge and transact learning they should try to avoid undermining or reject out of hand indigenous practices. ‘It’s not just about how we teach, but also how they learn’.

This opportunity allowed me to connect with my field of enquiry, establish personal contacts and re-confirm the gap in the research related to studies of trainer/advisor preparations from donor countries and organisations before they head in to post-conflict environments.

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