TKR - STEM Project - Travel Journal

Alex Valtchanov

Phase 1 - Kabul to Jalalabad

Amir - We are in an old Russian Truck and we're going to Jalalabad, or so says Baba. I feel sick, but the driver tells me I must have a strong stomach, for we are too close to Kabul to make any stops. I'm scared. Everything feels unnatural. Finally, we have a chance to stop, and as I suspected, I threw up. At a checkpoint a few minutes later, Baba almost is shot by a Russian soldier that is threatening a woman, because he tries to stand up for her. I wish I was as brave as my father... The next day, we are told that the truck needs repair in Jalalabad. We wait... A few more days pass, and we are told that a truck is no longer an option, and that we need to stuff into a fuel tank for the drive into Pakistan... I am not looking forward to this.

Baba - I feel a rage burning within me. I shouldn't have to be here after all I've worked for! I deserve my mansion in Kabul! However, I am a father, and I must do what is best for my son, and right now his best hope is America. We need to get out of Kabul, and I am embarrassed that my son even dared to ask to stop because he felt sick...I pity him but I also need to make him stronger, not weaker... Here at the stop, farther out from Kabul, I decide to stand up for a poor woman, because I will have no brethren of mine be discriminated by filthy Roussi... I am enraged that we must wait for parts for our truck, even more so because people are looking up to god to help them. God cannot give you the parts to fix a truck, and a truck is what we need to get out of here! ... We now know that we must ride in a fuel tank in order to escape Afghanistan. I sure hope that Amir does not feel sick once more; I must make him be strong.

Extras -

  • Math - If they drove nonstop, a truck going about 40 kph would have gotten them to Jalalabad in about 4 hours since the distance between Kabul and Jalalabad is about 150 km
  • Science - Many mountains of Afghanistan can be snow-capped, meaning that it isn't just a sweltering desert.
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Phase 2 - Jalalabad to Peshawar

Amir - It is very hard to breathe in this fuel tank. Everything is dark, and people are softly sobbing everywhere around me. I feel as If I have no memory... One thing I do remember is when we finally reach Pakistan, only to be met with terror: Kamal had died from the fumes and his father took his own life with a gun.

Baba - The fumes in this fuel tank is as deafening to the soul as a scream. I feel slightly worried myself, but I do my best to stay strong for Amir, for everyone... It turns out that the fumes killed poor Kamal, a troubled and unfortunate young fellow. Sadly his father decided a life without his only son was no life at all. This was a hard day.

Extras -

  • Science - Kamal likely died form Carbon Monoxide poisoning, due to the Hydrocarbon ingredients of gasoline, such as methane.
  • Math - Kamal was probably exposed to level of carbon monoxide at about 0.08-0.16 percent concentrated, as this range will kill a weak person in 2-4 hours
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Phase 3 - America

Amir - I feel like America was easier for me to adjust to than my father, but regardless, it was still difficult. However, much of my time was just helping my father and apologizing for his wrong "un-american" actions, like when he was mad because he had to show an ID. You see, in Afghanistan, you are known by who you are, what you do, how you appear, not by what a piece of plastic says... For me, America was a place to hide my sinful memories, and I liked that I could forget about Afghan life, mostly. Little did I know, however, that my sins would come back to haunt me...

Baba - I feel like America is a place for me to mourn my memories. I miss Afghanistan, the warm company of Afghans, the backgammon, the tea... I want it all back, but I have to do what is best for my son, and his future is here in America. I work hard here, at the gas station, and it is not anywhere near the lifestyle in Afghanistan, but it is safer here, and ultimately better. I'm afraid of my health, unfortunately... I can feel my soul waning from existence ever so slowly. I mustn't make others aware, though, for I do not wish my passing to be a large grieving as well as a grievance. My time is short, but I am proud of my accomplishments; I had a good life in Afghanistan and I have managed to transfer what is left of me to America for my son. Now it is time to work the last little bit and fade away from this world, and leave my elegant mark.

Extras -

  • Technology - The most common way to get to California from Pakistan today is a 1 stop connection through Abu Dabi, a major Middle Eastearn hub, however no plane that flies this route today was manufactured when Amir came to America, so the technology and possibly the route has been changing over time
  • Engineering - San Francisco International Airport was designed to withstand, or survive with minimal damage, a magnitude 8 earthquake. SFO* is likely the airport Amir and Baba flew in if they went and lived in Fremont


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