Center for Afghanistan Studies
Prior to assuming his present position in 1974, Mr. Gouttierre lived and worked for nearly 10 years in Afghanistan, serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, a Fulbright fellow, Executive Director of the Fulbright Foundation, and Head Coach of the Afghan National Basketball Team. He was also seconded by the U.S. State Department to serve as Senior Political Affairs Officer on the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission to Afghanistan in 1996 and 1997. Mr. Gouttierre speaks, reads, and writes Dari, Farsi, and Tajikistani Persian. His publications include numerous articles about Afghanistan society, culture, and politics. He co-authored the two-volume language textbook Dari for Foreigners and a bibliography of Persian works in English. He also writes original Dari poetry and serves as an internationally recognized authority on Central Asia’s cultures and conflicts, appearing in news articles and broadcasts worldwide. Read Thomas Gouttierre's full bio.
A professor of English language and literature at Kabul University during the Soviet occupation, Mr. Yaseer escaped Communist rule in 1987, seeking refuge initially in Pakistan. He came to Omaha a year later, where he has managed several multi-million-dollar grant projects over the past 30 years. He has led teacher training, translation, and publishing efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He has also served as the Director of the U.S. Peace Corps Training Program in Afghanistan, and has taught language and cross-cultural communications to departing Peace Corps volunteers in Colorado. In Omaha, he has served as the Ameer, Imam, and as a member of the Executive Committee of the local Islamic Center. Mr. Yaseer speaks English, Dari, Pashto, Arabic, and Urdu.
Prior to leaving Afghanistan in 1977, Dr. Burhan taught English as a second language and chaired the English Teacher Training Department at Kabul University. He also served as the Language-Culture Coordinator for the U.S. Peace Corps, preparing volunteers in Kabul and throughout the United States for service in Afghanistan. He first came to Omaha as a Fulbright scholar in 1977. When the Soviet war ensued, he decided to stay at UNO. He co-authored a series of textbooks for U.S. students of Dari and Afghan students of English, including Dari for Foreigners (1983) and the Dari-English Dictionary (1993). He has taught English as a second language to students of many nationalities. Since 2002, he has been teaching Dari and coordinating Afghanistan Immersion Seminars for both civilian and military personnel.
Dr. Shroder is an internationally renowned authority on geomorphology with unique insights on the geology and geography of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Himalayas. He has served as the Editor in Chief of the Elsevier book series Developments in Earth Surface Processes and Editor of the journal Geomorphology. He was awarded Fulbright grants for work in Pakistan in 1983 and in Afghanistan in 1978, as well as National Science Foundation and National Geographic Society grants to Nanga Parbat Himalaya in 1995 and to K2 Karakoram Himalaya in 2003. He has also worked on a variety of remote-sensing projects and an Afghanistan atlas project. Through his continuing work in Central Asia, he has learned to navigate both the lands and cultures of Afghanistan and its neighbors.
Prior to leaving his home country in 2007, Mr. Ahmadzai served in various positions in the Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. He was responsible for managing President Hamid Karzai’s daily schedule, and he also compiled profiles of all 249 members of the newly elected Wolesi Jirga in 2005. That work made him intimately familiar with the political dynamics of Afghanistan’s lower house, including the members’ political affiliations, educational backgrounds, and ethnic relationships. Before the Karzai presidency, Mr. Ahmadzai taught English as a second language in Peshawar, Pakistan, where he spent most of his life as a refugee. His native language is Pashto; he also speaks Dari, Urdu, English, and Hindi.
Ms. Wahab maintains the largest collection of research materials on Afghanistan in the United States. Before coming to Omaha in 1981, she worked for the Kabul Public Library and USAID in Afghanistan. In 2003 she helped archive Constitutional Loya Jirga documents and built a library for CLJ delegates. Ms. Wahab also led the Afghan Oral History Project, teaching oral history to Afghan women journalists and collecting video interviews for the 2003 PBS documentary Afghanistan Unveiled. She traveled to the country’s most remote areas and recorded the personal experiences of Afghan women who lived through the Soviet invasion. Her most recent publications include A Brief History of Afghanistan (2010) and Beginner’s Dari (2006). She speaks English, Dari, and some Pashto.
After experiencing the harsh realities of civil war in elementary and high school, Mr. Yosoufzai studied civil engineering at Kabul University. He later honed his English abilities at UNO and became the first Afghan to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He also attained his Masters degree in structural engineering from UNO. Growing up in time of war and crises and having an intense and diverse educational background in engineering, politics and strategic affairs gives him a unique ability to analyze issues related to Afghanistan.