FORT LEE, Va. – Afghan women processing through Fort Lee as part of Operation Allies Welcome participated in guided tours of the Army Women’s and Quartermaster museums Tuesday evening.
Kari Atkinson, who serves as director of both facilities, described the event as “highly successful” and said her team was “happy to support the effort.”
Garrison Commander Col. Karin L. Watson pointed out that some of the women “have a great grasp of English,” but they arranged for an interpreter to assist those who did not speak or understand the language.
“At the AWM, the Afghan guests wanted to know what motivated women to work with the Army early in our nation’s history,” said Tracy Bradford, AWM curator. “They also wanted to know about education and training for Army women. Overall, we had a great visit with the Afghan women and children at the facilities,”
During the Quartermaster Museum tour, Curator Dan Caughey highlighted logistics problem-solving and women’s roles in the corps. He said tour participants were clearly appreciative for the chance to learn about those parts of Army history.
One display at the AWM invites guests to share their own stories, experiences, reflections and thoughts for the future of Army women. Bradford said several of the Afghan visitors left personal messages.
“I have been evacuated recently during our government (collapse),” one message shared. “I am heartbroken, but this museum motivated me that one day, we Afghan women will have good Army history in the future.”
“We received feedback from the Afghan women that it was helpful to see how American women have struggled and persevered to achieve the opportunities that are afforded to them today,” Bradford said.
Working with the children who also took part in the tour was equally rewarding, she further noted. AWM and QM team members particularly enjoyed helping the youths try on items from the education collection and take selfies with Army equipment in both museums.
According to Watson, coordination of future tours is underway to give as many women as possible a chance to visit the museums.