Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hello Engineer/Dr/Teacher/Mr Bob!

There is an interesting formality in Afgahnistan which used to throw me for a bit of a loop. The use of “Engineer” and “Teacher” (‘oo-staht’ in Dari), and I believe a few other things, as titles. In the west we of course call someone Doctor So-&-So if they are PhDs/MDs here you do the same but you also call someone Engineer or Teacher So-&-So if they are engineers or teachers, interesting.


Another interesting detail is you are considered a teacher if you have 14 years of schooling (more like going to the 14th grade than going and getting a 2 year technical degree), of course those teaching in school are also “Oostahts”. Some people are called engineer (or call themselves) Engineer even if they don’t have an engineering degree which was kind of strange. I know at least one Afghan who this seems to irk in that he does have a 4 year engineering degree (and I can attest that he is one of the most competent Afghans in my organization) so when others, who do not have engineering degrees are called “Engineer” I can sometimes see him flinch.