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A Report from the White House Fellows
  Spring 2003 VOLUME 27 Number 2
From the Director
Fellows Head West
2003-2004 White House Fellows Program National Finalists
Education Calendar
2003 Regional Panelists
Meet the Fellows Staff
Fellows Corner
White House Fellows in the News
Where Are They Now?
Mark Your Calendars!

Fellows Corner : White House Fellow in Afghanistan

-Richard Greco ('02-03)

As part of my work placement at the Department of Defense, I recently had the privilege to visit Afghanistan and Kuwait. At the side of Les Brownlee, Undersecretary of the Army and his Executive Officer, Bruce Berwick (‘87-88), I was part of a mission to assess the progress of reconstruction and humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan.

The journey to the region was not easy. We flew in a C-130 cargo plane from a CENTCOM base. To evade possible fire from shoulder-mounted rockets, we did a corkscrew descent in the black of night onto a runway. On the runway were remnants of a Soviet plane destroyed by Afghan resistance forces in the 1908s – a stark reminder of Afghan might and determination.

While the journey was difficult, the promise of a brighter future for the country was evident immediately upon landing. We saw the rebuilding of communities, opening of schools, and women participating in society. Humanitarian aid, such as food, blankets, and clothing, was distributed. We witnessed the soldiers of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Civil Affairs Units building hospitals, military training centers, and other necessary structures.

The mission included a visit to a school in Pol-e-Charki, which is located just southeast of Kabul. As we approached the school in our American motorcade, children dressed in brightly colored clothes exited their homes and greeted us with their thumbs up high in the air. They begged not for money, but for pens, pencils, and paper – the tools for education. Inspired by their desire for an education, we made arrangements for the students of The Montfort Academy in New York to donate pens, pencils, and soccer balls to the children of the Pol-e-Charki school.

Kabul is more intense. The American base is still shelled from time to time, and armored vehicles patrol the streets. Our motorcade was approached by a vehicle with black tinted windows. Our escort cautioned our driver against maneuvering into a nearby crowded market. He drew and readied his weapon to intimidate the driver, who continued close to us. The driver then sped off. It was a tense and frightening moment.

During my time in Afghanistan, I experienced the full spectrum of human emotion – despair, hope, with joy, sadness, fear, and relief. I witnessed the promising efforts that are underway. Yet, much work remains. I departed infinitely to experience Afghanistan.

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