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I Learned The Value Of An Education In Afghanistan
The Afghan man looked at the paper with a blank look on his face.
“Does he know what that says?” I asked my interpreter.
“No, he cannot read,” he said. “Very few people here can read or even write.”
“You explained it and he understands it though, right?” I said.
“Yes, he said he trusts us,” the interpreter responded.
During my deployment to Afghanistan, the company I was attached to was looking to implement a small project. There were several local contractors in the area and they were all jockeying to do this job and get paid. I thought it would be a good idea to have a contract with the contractor, so I composed a simple one that said how much he would be paid, when he would be paid, and when we expected the work to be done. It could have said anything in the world other than what the project was about, because as I found out, he couldn’t read.
In Afghanistan, a lot of people don’t have that ability. According to the CIA World Factbook, only 28% of the adult population is literate. Last spring, the BBC reported that in 2001 only 21% of children in the country were enrolled in school; this did not include girls, who were not allowed to attend school. Since then, much progress has been made for sure, but it doesn’t mean the problem of thousands, if not millions of children, without a formal education has gone away. Decades of fighting and unrest in Afghanistan have resulted in systemic governance problems for the country, but the untold number of people without a basic education will cause headaches for years if not decades to come in that country.
I went to a good school from first grade all the way through high school that my parents paid good money for me to go to. I graduated toward the bottom of the class and not because my classmates were smarter than me — although looking back, there were some very bright people in my class — or because I had a learning disability. I simply had a poor attitude about school. I thought it was wildly unnecessary learning about stuff I didn’t see the importance in. I thought school was the ultimate “check in the box.” I was a punk for having this attitude and I regret it.
Over 10 years later, I am in college working on my bachelor’s degree. It’s good that I came to college later than my peers. I wasn’t ready after high school and I certainly didn’t have the right attitude. I wouldn’t change the experiences I’ve had either, but if I had gone straight into college out of high school — and hadn’t flunked out somehow — my life would have been much different I’m sure.
It was in Afghanistan that I saw what an education can do for people. Being able to read and write — the most basic of education principles — is something I vastly took for granted. With my simple — by Western standards — education, I am head and shoulders above people trying to get ahead in countries like Afghanistan. There are a whole list of reasons why I am better off than a person living in Afghanistan, but having an education is one of the main advantages that I have.
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Trump: $6.1 billion in DoD money going to border wall wasn’t for anything that seemed ‘too important to me’
President Donald Trump claims the $6.1 billion from the Defense Department's budget that he will now spend on his border wall was not going to be used for anything "important."
Trump announced on Friday that he was declaring a national emergency, allowing him to tap into military funding to help pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."
D-Day veteran James McCue died a hero. About 500 strangers made sure of it.
"It's beautiful," Army Sgt. Pete Rooney said of the crowd that gathered in the cold and stood on the snow Thursday during McCue's burial. "I wish it happened for every veteran's funeral."