Meeting in Review: August 14, 2013
At 12:30, President Shaun called the meeting to order, asked for the silencing of cell phones, and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
The words of inspiration were given by Russ Savage, who quoted from the Vietnamese Buddhist monk and author Thich Nhat Hanh with meditations on beginning a meal.
Secretary Tim Hurd introduced the Guests of Rotarians:
Kristy Pettie, retired from the IMF, guest of Clara Montanez
Mehreen Hasan, intern at Oppenheimer, guest of Clara Montanez
Ovidiu Buzorean, senior manager at GIST, CRDF, guest of Jennifer Hara
Journalia McCloud, president of Capital Industrial Security Awareness Council, guest of Abe Helal
Don Bryant, principal of Stoddard Elementary School, guest of Steve Dingledine
Eloise Canfield, guest of Monish Dutt
William Busker, Executive VP of Emerald Planet, a prospective member
Ruth Krosin, THIS, guest of Clara Montanez
Chris Gilson, director of recruiting for the Peace Corps, guest of Dick Pyle
Nita Corace, project manager/event chairman of CISAC, guest of Abe Helal
Silvia Musiani, CEO of the Itala Group, guest of Andrea Ghiaroni
Diego Grajales, VP Kazen Services, guest of Guillermo Grajales
Visiting Rotarians from Overseas:
- Angela R. Hayes, of Nagril, Jamaica, executive director of Hanover Educational Institute, a past president
- Pam Myrie Howe, of Negril, Jamaica, owner of Debar and Grill
- Zen Tatsumura, of the Tokyo, Japan, of the Tatsumura Law Office
As a guest along with our speaker, we welcomed Phil Herndon, a GIS analyst with NOAA.
US Rotarians in Attendance:
- Geoffrey Klopp, of Columbia, MD
Also visiting us was District 7620 Governor Peter Kyle.
Sergeant at Arms David Treadwell announced the birthdays:
- Ted Hamady, August 11. Hospitality Table co-chair Ted joined our club in 1986, sponsored by Karl Hamady. His classification is International Defense: Security Services.
- Marvin Taylor-Dormond, August 13. Marvin was sponsored by Rob Warne when he joined our club in 2006. His classification is Development Finance: Private Sector.
President Shaun called Past President Howard Davis to the podium to remind everyone to sign up for DCPS Beautification Day, Saturday, August 24 from 9 am to 1 pm. The club will be working at Stanton Elementary School under Past President Howard’s direction. Also, President Howard showed a T-shirt that will be given to everyone working at Stanton of at the first Habitat for Humanity Build Day, our Club project, Saturday September 14th.
President Shaun reported that a volunteer is still needed for Grate Patrol on August 20. He offered the Club’s congratulations to Jessica Hancock Stewart, newly married in June in her home state of Michigan.
He announced that the Rotating Happy Hour will be held Thursday, August 22 at Proof, near the Verizon Center.
President Shaun awarded a Paul Harris Fellow pin to Membership Committee Chairman Abe Helal (+1 jewel) .
Clara Montanez then introduced our speaker, Ms. Hali Jilani, and noted that Ms. Jilani's mother was in attendance. Clara briefly talked about the need for understanding the changing nature of warfare, and described our Afghan-American speaker’s perilous work for the United Nations Association of the US, the US Marine Corps and for the future of Afghanistan – she has been captured and escaped twice.
“Yes, there is an endless line of people who want to shoot me,” said Ms Jilani, catapulting us into her world of warlords, wary village elders, young Marines, and a history of conflict stretching back thousands of years. And no, she said, she has no relationship with any intelligence agency – her cause is community and common sense.
After complimenting the Marine Corps and particularly those on the front lines who assume the greatest risks, Ms Jilani said America should understand insurgency, given that those who founded the nation were insurgents themselves. Afghanistan can be held and secured, she maintains, though her forecast is gloomy. America will not understand community grievances and their desire for progress for future generations from behind the walls of a megabase, she said, a recurring theme of her talk.
She contrasted her stays in the mud huts of remote villages – “just a middle-aged battleaxe and her Kalashnikov” -- to the isolation of those working in heavily guarded bases, and the corruption in Kabul. She has great admiration and a maternal feeling for the military, and traces her own ancestry back through generations of soldier Afghans. Her prescription for success in retaining the vital strategic asset of Afghanistan’s location: bring in what she calls “tactical civilians” – doctors, lawyers, engineers, and others who understand the hopes of Afghans. Forget ” the thousand thieves that intel agencies gravitate to”, she said, in a typically pungent choice of words.
The most vivid anecdote from this fearless woman concerned an episode involving hundreds of contractors and workers who waited outside the gates of one of the bases each day. Following long pre-dawn travel, they sat in the sun and dust until the workday could begin, often late in the morning. Why water can’t be given to these people, she asked. And after bureaucratic tussles, bottled water was found for regular distribution, making her a hero to the assembled truck drivers, vendors and local employees. She stood on the bed of a truck in her camouflage uniform, an easy target, saying: “You think I’m an angel for bringing you water? Look at me, I’m just a woman! If you’d let your wives and daughters out of your houses, they could accomplish good things as well!”
The rapt audience had plenty of questions. Should more women be brought in to help the country? Yes, definitely, the female engagement teams are accepted by both men and women. Men do love shooting at each other, but educated and enlightened women have a special ability to get things done. During past wars, women ran underground institutions, schools and businesses while men fought.
What is your best guess for the future? Her answer: If the effort continues as it has, then there is only a depressing prospect of civil war and turmoil. The country will survive as always, locked in inter-ethnic fighting.
You talk of work at the village level, a member asked. But governments talk to governments: what should our policy be? Kharzi is seen as a US puppet, she responded. Did you learn from Vietnam? Do you want to stay a world power? Then exercise your power or you will see more struggles in the Middle East , and watch many Afghanistans erupt in Africa.
The megacorporations could take ten percent of their enormous overhead and invest it in communities, she believes. Those who want to help Afghanistan should follow the Peace Corps paradigm. They should settle small businesses in local areas. Provincial governors should not select the district governors, they should be locally chosen.
The audience was very impressed with Hali Jilani and gave her a rare standing ovation.
President Shaun presented the tree certificate, and called for the raffle container. Steve Adkins won the $23 small pot and turned it over to Ms. Jilani for use in her projects, who turned around and donated it to our club Foundation. However, the $135 large pot escaped Steve.
The jackpot raffle was managed by Helen Moore. The Hospitality table was staffed by Stu Shalloway, Ted Hamady and Balraj Gupta. Greeters were Shelly Williams and Andrea Ghiaroni.
The meeting was adjourned.