Nat Geo Adventurer Of The Year Travels The Streets Of Afghanistan

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Afghanistan is a country that has been embroiled in turmoil and conflict for decades. Since the Russians invaded back in 1979, the nation has been at war in some form or another. When the Russians pulled out and went home in 1989, an internal struggle grew with the Taliban coming to power. 11 years ago they were over thrown by an invading American force hell-bent on finding and destroying al-Qaeda. That conflict is finally starting to wind down as well, but Afghanis are bracing for a renewed civil war which will help decide what course the country charts for the future.

That is the historical and cultural landscape in which National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Shannon Galpin operates with her amazing Streets of Afghanistan project. The touring photo and art exhibit, which is on display in Kabul now, is the result of a collaboration between photographers from within Afghanistan itself and from the West. The images that they have captured provide a mix of emotions, at times uplifting and joyful, and at others heartbreaking and sad. They are scenes of life from  that country, which much like life everywhere else on the planet, has both moments of serenity and chaos. 
The photos weren’t just taken and then hung on a wall somewhere. Quite the contrary actually. The images were blown-up to life-size, which goes a long way toward further conveying the sense of actually being there. The exhibit originally went on display in mountain towns in Colorado and has since garnered more widespread attention elsewhere. Galpin felt it was important to take it to Afghanistan itself however and in October that dream became reality. 
Shannon also happens to be a tireless advocate of women’s rights and in a country life Afghanistan that can be a challenging cause to take up. But it is clear that she feels a deep connection with the country and feels that now is a time to work for change. With that idea in mind, she launched her non-proft organization Mountain2Mountain back in 2006 in an effort to promote educational opportunities for women living in conflict zones around the world. 
This is an amazing project that has found a way to use art and culture to create bridges of understand and new opportunities for a country that continues to struggle for peace. 
Kraig Becker