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Stereotype of Afghans inaccurate

Nov. 2, 2005

by DAVID KAYE, columnist

"You'll get to see the world." That's what recruiters used to say when convincing young men and women to join the service. It's not a lie. They just make it sound so much better than the reality of going overseas to fight a war.

When I came over here, I wanted to see the culture, to escape the Baylor Bubble. I didn't get to see much outside of the military camps until I was assigned to our current mission.

In the last week, I've learned more about the people here than in the previous three months combined.

Every night when we come back to our house there are grown cats and tiny kittens walking around outside, looking for food. Earlier this week, I decided to feed them. I took a few cans of tuna and set them on the ground, and within seconds an adult cat and four kittens came running over.

We have Afghan army soldiers guarding our house every hour of the day. When I was outside feeding the cats, a few of them came over and started a conversation.

Four guards are on every shift, and there's always one who speaks English.

We talked for more than an hour about everything from sports to the way life used to be in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime.

It was getting late, so I told them I had to go inside. As I was walking away, one of them stopped me and said, "We are glad you are here."

That one statement made me feel like this is where I belong.

There's a stereotype that the people of Afghanistan are serious most of the time and don't like to joke around and laugh. I've found the total opposite in talking with the guards.

They love to laugh and poke fun at each other. They even took a few shots at me last night, joking about how the cats are eating better than them.

The last week has made this place feel as close to home as possible. I'm proud to spend a year here, helping the people of Afghanistan in their pursuit of happiness.

Army Spc. David Kaye is working with military communication. He's a junior journalism major from Katy.