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GERING, Neb. (AP) — Rangers in western Nebraska’s Scotts Bluff National Monument are connecting with students in Afghanistan via the internet as a learning opportunity.

Park Superintendent Dan Morford, lead interpreter Lesley Gaunt and Chief Ranger Justin Cawiezel were at the national monument Sunday to give more than 60 Afghan students a virtual tour through an iPad, The Star-Herald ( ) reported.

The students from schools in Kabul, Jalalabad and Bamiyan asked about the National Park Service, the economic impact and why people want to see the parks. The tour and questions from the students lasted about 90 minutes.

Cawiezel said he was happy to inform students half a world away about the national park system in the U.S. and about the Scotts Bluff National Monument.

“We, as a staff, love sharing that information with our park visitors,” he said, adding that having visitors around the world “is an interesting medium.”

The opportunity for the program was prompted after the U.S. State Department requested that a connection be made. The internet connection between the countries was set up by the Lincoln Learning Centers and the U.S. embassy.

“Because our iPads have so much encryption, they don’t connect by themselves to the internet,” said Morford. “With the hotspot, we get really good coverage and we’re toodling all over the place.”

Scotts Bluff was chosen because it’s a sister park to Band-e Amir, Afghanistan’s sole national park.


Information from: Star-Herald,