The peaceful hues of 1960s Afghanistan paint a far different picture of the country embroiled with corruption and struggle. In 1967, Arizona State University professor Dr. Bill Podlich and his family swapped the stark, sultry summers of Tempe, Arizona for the environs of Kabul, Afghanistan. After serving in World War II, Podlich wanted to partake in a cause for peace and for that reason, he teamed up with UNESCO to work for two years at the Higher Teachers College of Kabul, Afghanistan. With him were his children, Jan and Peg, along with his wife Margaret.
When not developing relationships with his Afghani cohorts, Podlich developed his Kodachrome film, capturing a modernizing and peaceful Afghanistan that belies the harrowing images and thoughts associated with the war-torn country we see today. That is why, in Peg Podlich’s eyes, her father’s photos are so incredibly important. Says Podlich, these photos “can encourage folks to see Afghanistan and its people as they were and could be. It is important to know that we have more in common with people in other lands than what separates us.”
Peg Podlich on a trip from Kabul to Peshawar, Pakistan.
Dr. Bill Podlich on a hillside in Kabul.
A Buddha statue in Bamiyan Valley. In 2001, the Taliban destroyed the two largest ones.
Men looking over Istalif, a centuries-old center for pottery.
Men and boys enjoying the waters of the Kabul river.
An Afghan boy decorating cakes.
Jan Podlich during a shopping trip in Istalif.
A Senior English class at the American International School of Kabul.
Young students in a playground.
Students at the Higher Teachers College of Kabul where Dr. Podlich taught for two years with UNESCO.
An Afghani military band.
An Afghan Army parade through Kabul.
Afghan repairmen in Kabul.
Shah-Do Shamshira Mosque, built in the early 20th century under the reign of Amanullah Khan.
Parking lot of the American International School of Kabul.
A chemistry lesson in a mud-walled classroom.
Sisters milling the streets of Kabul.
Afghanistan's Bamiyan Valley, home to numerous Buddhist monastic ensembles and sanctuaries as well as Islamic edifices.
A man preparing jilabee, a sweet dessert.
A residential hillside in Kabul.
Two Afghani men walking home.
King's Hill in Paghman Gardens, constructed following Amanullah Khan's tour of Europe, India and Iran. Paghman soon became a chic holiday retreat filled with chalets, villas and gardens. These royal gardens were public, however in order to enter one had to don Western garb. At the tail end of the 20th century, though, Paghman converted into Mujahideen battleground and most everything has since been destroyed.
The Soviet-built Salang Tunnel, which connects northern and southern Afghanistan.
A gas station in Kabul.
Afghan girls coming home from school. Both Afghan boys and girls were educated until the high school level.
Two Afghan teachers at the Higher Teachers College.
A stop during the Podlich family's bus trip through the Khyber Pass.
Peg Podlich arriving in Kabul.
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We also highly recommend watching this Vice series on life in Afghanistan since the American-led invasion: