KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - When traveling outside the United States, Soldiers are afforded opportunities to experience other cultures and learn to appreciate traditions and customs different from their own.

Combat deployments also offer these opportunities. Soldiers of Train, Advise and Assist Command-South, comprised of Soldiers from the 40th Infantry Division, California National Guard, and 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, were invited by Afghan contractors to celebrate the holiday of Nauruz on Kandahar Airfield, March 21.

Nauruz, also known as Farmer's Day, is a celebration of the Afghan New Year that falls on the first day of spring. The celebration on Kandahar included food, music and traditional dancing.

"We invited Soldiers to the celebration so they can experience a piece of our Afghan culture," said Mohammad Yahya Faqiri, a translator for TAAC-South.

Faqiri, has worked for U.S. Forces for the past eight years and was one of several Afghan translators who contributed to the celebration's preparations.

"A thing (that) I enjoyed is that the Afghans are very proud of their culture," said Capt. Evelyn ScottPhillips, a human resources advisor with 40th Inf. Div. "They were excited to share traditions such as their cultural dress and local food."

During the celebration, Soldiers and contractors enjoyed a variety of traditional local Afghan foods including qabili, which is a local type of dirty rice, and haftmewa a special drink for Nauruz that is prepared from seven fruits.

"I enjoyed being invited by Mr. Faqiri to experience this meaningful tradition and the great food," said Chaplain Maj. Patrick Devine, the brigade chaplain for 2nd IBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "All of the Afghan contractors we work with are important to our mission at TAAC-S, and I feel the opportunity we were granted to learn more about their culture helped us grow as a team."

During the celebration participants listened to classical Afghan music as contractors performed their traditional dances.

"One purpose of the New Year's celebration is to share a sense of optimism for the year ahead," said Faqiri. "The optimism is something we wanted to spread among the Soldiers in TAAC-South as we look forward to another fruitful year working and growing together."