A young man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk...and apparently, back again.

My Photo
Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

The details of my life are quite inconsequential, really. Summers in Rangoon...luge lessons...

Friday, March 31, 2006

Agam High School

From a distance, it doesn't seem like too many have made it to the opening of Agam High School, a project paid for by the Marine battalion's commander's emergency reconstruction project (CERP) funds...
Then you get closer. Ah, they're all sitting on the ground, that's why.

Q: How do you keep a crowd of adolescent boys this large quiet, and paying attention?
A: Break out the switches, that's how! (I should write Afghan proverbs)

Seriously, here and there in the crowd, instructors are patrolling with switches (the leafy ends of tree branches), with which they threaten and occasionally use on the kids. I've mentioned it before--it's no longer surprising to see, just their preferred cultural method of keeping crowds in line. Like the Italian smack to the head, the Japanese samurai sword to the neck, or the American prescription for Ritalin, if you will.

"Now how many of these kids are mine?"
Headmasters mill about with the Coalition representatives, as we all wonder when the district subgovernor will grace us with his presence so we can start the ceremony.

As I said, lots of milling...

For some, it was killing...

And for some, just chilling. Staff Sgt Hadzic, one of the great life stories out here (he fought Serbs in the Balkans as a teenage Bosnian), inspires quizzical looks from youngsters.

Check out the expression on the little bugger in the lower left!

Finally, we were underway. Mohammed Sadiq, one of the headmasters, will be your emcee today, folks. A young mullah then sang a beautiful was totally unlike the calls to prayer that we hear each day.

Then it was time for the subphonic stylings of the Subgovernor of Pachir wa Agam, Sayeed Rahman. He echoed the headmaster's appreciation for all we've done, then spent 75% of his speech telling us what they still want. It's kind of a typical Afghan thank you.

"You can get with this, or you can get with that." He may as well have said that, for all the kids cared...they were much more preoccupied with my little camera.

Capt Battista (Sheriff Bart, as I call him) spoke for the Coalition, and reminded the people that the improvements they still seek are only possible if NGOs return, and NGOs will only return if they're not getting blown up...which is probably the most honest assessment they've ever heard.

But the boys, they're still not impressed. They're just wondering when the torment will be over, and they can harass us again.

The ribbon is cut, and Agam High School is open for learnin.' The subgovernor's speeches could use some work, but just as I was thinking that day what kind of guts it takes to be head of a lawless district, another one got whacked yesterday. So it is still one incredibly dangerous job.

Maj Edwards presents certificates to the school president and the chief engineer, who is my new Afghan hero. He spoke for about 15 seconds, as opposed to the average speech of say, two hours. His words of wisdom? Take care of the school, and make it last. Beautiful.

Hanging with my new friend Abdul, who works both as an engineer and an English teacher. Some of the more industrious young Afghans are incredible in all they take on. But I only like this picture for the guy about to pop that cookie into his mouth.

Outside, meanwhile, our vehicles attracted the usual crowds of curious locals looking for whatever treats we bring. Some relatively orderly...

And some rapscalions not so orderly. I wrote, "Total chaos when trying to leave. Teachers throw rocks and use sticks, but kids still swarm humvees left and right."

I leave you with the sentiment expressed by an esteemed American figure of educational achievement...
"Hooray for school!" -Billy Madison


Anonymous Agam High football rules!!! said...

"Billy, I beg you ... no gibberish today ..."

Great post, Deuce!

March 31, 2006 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger I Love Jeets said...

Paco, what you've just written is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

March 31, 2006 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger I Love Jeets said...

This is Jason Giambi. Yes I did take illegal steroids, therefore I am a cheater.

March 31, 2006 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger Cousin Tim said...

Can I have one of those whacking sticks to keep the unruly kids in line at schoo?

March 31, 2006 at 2:45 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Betsy said...

Just like on NCIS - a cuff on the head says it all!
Thanks for your insight into life in an entirely different world.

March 31, 2006 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger John Mayer said...

Tell me, do they let those children run through the halls of their high school, screaming at the top of their lungs?

April 2, 2006 at 3:22 PM  
Anonymous Emily said...

"Back to schooool...back to schoooool, to prove to dad that I'm not a fooool...back to schooool..."

April 3, 2006 at 12:24 PM  
Anonymous ISUgirl said...

You're a hottie, Capt Dan! Thanks for sharing your pics and stories.

April 4, 2006 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger Major John said...

Good to see the Afghan ways have not changed, heh heh.
You are spot on about people like the Engineer/teacher. Those people are going to be the ones who rebuild their country - in every way.
Feels good to help give them that chance, doesn't it?

Keep up the good work, and stay safe.

April 5, 2006 at 7:10 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

Great Stuff Capt Dan! Love your picture (the ones of mountains included. They are breathtaking.)

April 5, 2006 at 11:47 PM  
Anonymous Truckymedic said...

Awesome story. No metion of this in the MSM. I really appreciate all you guys do.

April 7, 2006 at 3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow...great pics and good to see some rebuilding. Hang in what you safe! My brother is in Afghan. as well (blackhawk crew chief) and my son is a medic. Praying for you all.

October 25, 2006 at 7:15 PM  
Anonymous "BATTISTA FAN" said...

I love you Capt Battista! You never cease to amaze me with the good that you do in this crazy world! Remember that to change an attitude you can only begin by changing what is in their hearts. Your girl in New Zealand Bridget xox

July 6, 2008 at 3:37 PM  
Blogger NaSiR A said...

Thanks for Supporting the innocent people of Agam!

Nasir From Aagam

January 21, 2014 at 1:08 PM  
Blogger Major Dan said...

Thank you, NaSiR A. It's been a long time since I read the posts from 2006. I hope the school is still there in Agam…do you know if it is?

January 27, 2014 at 3:47 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home