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Stallings to leave for Afghanistan

October 11, 2010

Dr. Jody Stallings gave a lecture in Goolsby 205 to students and faculty about what he will be doing in Afghanistan. Photo by Jacob Stone

By Kathleen Layton, Editor-in-Chief

On October 11, Dr. Jody Stallings, associate professor of biology at Young Harris College, gave a brief lecture before he flies tomorrow to help with US AID in Afghanistan.

In Gooslby 205  Stallings told a class room full of faculty and students about his training for US AID, which lasted 42 days. Stallings said, “I’ve been gone 42 days, although it feels more like six months to me.”

Stallings lived with 85 other men and spent time in West Virginia, Indiana, Virginia and Washington DC throughout his training for US AID. During that time he spend a week in the foreign service institute, where he was familiarized with Afghanistan. During his training he also spent time simulating how future interactions with Afghan diplomats and dignitaries will be coordinated.

“Tomorrow, I’m leaving to go off to the land of beards and carpets,” joked Stallings.

He explained that while there he will be stationed in Kunduz, Afghanistan in a German PRT camp. A PRT is a provincial reconstruction team. These teams are “embedded with the military to help at the village level,” said Stallings.

Stallings emphasized that, “We are trying to help win the hearts and minds of the Afghans for their government. We are not trying to win their heats and minds for the US.”

To do this, the PRTs will be exercising a counter insurgency plan. To do this, civilians like Stallings will “help strengthen the Afghan government to that the villagers will respect the government and not run to the Taliban for support,” said Stallings.

The PRT will be working through US AID, which is a US agency helping international development. Stallings has worked for US AID in the past in the countries of Paraguay and Guatemala, among other countries.

“I have 24 years experience helping in economic development, so I hope that my expertise will help make a little bit of difference. That’s why I’m doing this, and it’s all I’m really hoping for,” Stallings said.

Along with making a difference Stallings intends on making sure that US AID and other agencies are making good use of US tax dollars and that US funds are not fostering corruption within Afghanistan.

While there, Stallings will start a blog that will be accessible through yhc.connect. This blog will be interactive and will have open forum discussions on Stallings’ posts. Stallings will be returning to Blairsville every three months; during those breaks he will be giving updates on how life really is in Afghanistan.

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