Chayes Fellow Brian Kelly ’15 on working with Open Society Afghanistan


I really enjoyed my summer working with Open Society Afghanistan in Kabul. I spent the first half of my summer researching the role of Afghan civil society organizations in the peace and reconciliation process, which involved interviewing dozens of human rights organizations and activists in Afghanistan, and drafting a report that evaluated their progress and offered recommendations for the way forward. During the second half of my summer, I helped the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission – the government’s independent watchdog entity – draft the country’s first legislation offering compensation and assistance to civilian victims of the conflict. In addition to these projects, I also helped with the monitoring and evaluation of Open Society’s grantees, which took me to a number of interesting locations, including Herat where I visited Afghanistan’s only law school clinical program.

Everyone in my office was incredibly welcoming, and while I hadn’t given much thought beforehand to the fact that I’d be the only ex-pat working in the office, it was something that I truly came to appreciate. Both in and out of the office, I took every chance I could to practice Dari with Afghans, which was a great way to learn more about the country’s politics, history, and culture. Working in Afghanistan wasn’t without its challenges, but it was an incredibly rewarding experience, and I am grateful to the Chayes fellowship program for its support.