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Center for Afghanistan Studies

Team Members

Thomas E. Gouttierre

Thomas E. Gouttierre

Dean of International Studies & Programs, CAS Director

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.

Abdul Raheem Yaseer

Abdul Raheem Yaseer

Assistant Director

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.

Esmael Burhan

Esmael Burhan

Dari Language Consultant

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.

John (Jack) Shroder

John (Jack) Shroder

Research Coordinator and Professor Emeritus

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.

Sher Jan Ahmadzai

Sher Jan Ahmadzai

Education & Outreach Specialist

Mr. Ahmadzai has served at various positions in the Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Prior to leaving Afghanistan in 2007, he served as Director of the Presidential Schedule and was responsible for managing President Karzai’s daily calendar. Mr. Ahmadzai also worked on an assigned project at the Presidential Palace to provide the president with detailed background reports on each member of the newly elected Parliament of Afghanistan in 2005. The report focused on educational backgrounds and political and ethnic affiliations of the members. Mr. Ahmadzai joined a group of Afghan Young Leaders who attended a Professional Development and Leadership program at UNO in 2006. Prior to his service in Afghanistan in the 2000s, he lived most of his life as a refugee in Pakistan. Mr. Ahmadzai is a regular contributor and commentator on BBC Pashto and Dari programs and as well as VOA Pashto, covering various political and current affairs in Afghanistan and the United States. He holds a BA in International Studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, concentrating on International Business and Leadership and Global Strategic Studies. Mr. Ahmadzai is currently a Master's of Public Administration candidate at UNO. His native language is Pashto; he also speaks Dari, Urdu, English, and Hindi.

Shaista Wahab

Shaista Wahab

Curator of the Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection at UNO

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.

Mohammad Basheer

Mohammad Basheer

Dari Language Consultant

In the late 1960s, Mr. Basheer worked for the Foreign Service Institute in Estes Park, Colorado, and Washington DC. In the early 1970s, he served as the chair of the English Language Department at Kabul University and later as a training coordinator for Afghanistan's Peace Corps office. He then went on to work for the United Nations in Afghanistan, first as a translator and interpreter and then as a logistics manager for the UN Program for Drug Control in Kabul.

In the mid-1980s, Mr. Basheer worked as a translator and interviewer for the U.S. Refugee Program in Islamabad, assisting Afghans as they fled the Soviet war for the United States. This experience informed his later research on social and economic adjustment issues of refugees from Afghanistan, Ethiopa, Poland, and Romania.

Starting in the late 1980s, Mr. Basheer played many different roles at the Center for Afghanistan Studies. He helped various scholars and students from Central Asia prepare for study in the United States through programs sponsored by USAID and the U.S. Information Agency (predecessor to Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy in the U.S. State Department). He has also taught Dari at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California.

Mr. Basheer holds a bachelor's degree in teaching English as a Second Language from Kabul University. He also holds graduate-level credentials in teaching ESL from Indiana University in Bloomington and the Philippine Normal College in Manila. Basheer is fluent in Persian and Dari, as well as Tajiki, Pashto, and English.