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Stallings reports on life in desert

February 7, 2011 Comments off

By Christelle Vereb, Staff Writer

“I always thought he would end up the president,” said Max Stallings in regards to his father Dr. Jody Stallings, an associate professor of biology at Young Harris College.

Stallings departed for Kunduz, Afghanistan on Oct. 12, 2010.

While in Afghanistan, Stallings has been working through US AID, an agency of the US that focuses on helping countries in their developing stages.  Stallings works in a PRT, or a provincial reconstruction team. As part of a PRT team, Stallings is focusing on helping, along with shaping, communities in Afghanistan to trust and respect their governments.

While in Afghanistan Stallings keeps an updated blog of his activities and gives a firsthand account of his experiences. The blog can be accessed through YHC connect website, or at https://connect.yhc.edu/stallings_blog/default.aspx.

Each post includes Dr. Stallings thoughts and experiences thus far in his work.

A snippet of Stallings’s post from December 15 reads, “In about two hours from now, I will be traveling to northern Afghanistan to establish myself in my “permanent” site in Kunduz province, in extreme north Afghanistan.  It will be a welcome relief to unpack my bags that have been following me around for the past 50 days or so while in training in Washington, DC, in Arlington, VA, in W. Va, and in Indianapolis.  I will live in a hooch. However, my 10×20 foot living quarters will be awesome: I will share this space with no one”.

In his absence, Dr. Stallings’s son Max Stallings, an athletic trainer for YHC athletic teams.“I went to school here, and graduated here. So, when I came back here to be an athletic trainer, I thought I would recognize the students and I thought they would recognize me. But instead everyone talks about my dad,” Stallings said jokingly. “But I like that everyone talks about him, it makes me think of my dad more often. And it makes me proud of him, because my dad is a great man. He loves his job here at Young Harris, and he loves his job he is doing now. It’s really great that even in his absence students still talk about him. That’s a good feeling; it shows how much of an impact he has on his student’s lives. ”

Dr. Stallings has been gone from YHC for almost 6 months now, and like his son, students are also waiting for his return.

A native of Hiawassee, sophomore communication major, Ellie Parton says “I was wondering where he was. I didn’t know until one of my friends informed me. I was looking forward to taking another class from him. I can’t wait till he returns to Young Harris so I can hear all about his experience.”

As students miss him, Dr. Stallings is also missing YHC and his students and co-workers.

“He really misses it here. The students have such a great impact on him. He can’t wait to return, but for now he is doing his job, which he is really good at,” said Max Stallings.

On his blog posted on Dec. 15, Stallings said he had “355 days left on this one year assignment.”  Until his time in Afghanistan is finished, students and faculty are counting and eagerly awaiting Dr. Stallings’s return to the YHC campus.

 

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Stallings to leave for Afghanistan

October 11, 2010 Comments off

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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