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CSC graduate finds himself giving tests in Afghanistan

Hello CSC,Almost two years have passed since I was student reading a new edition of the Spartan and never in million years could I have guessed where I’d end up. I currently work for the Army Education Center as a test examiner. It is a pretty straightforward job, really no different than any other job I’ve had. The only difference is, this job is located in Afghanistan.

I work on fairly large base near the border of Pakistan in the Afghan Province of Khost. My office is located right next to the flight line so I have the joy of proctoring exams as Black Hawk and Apache helicopters constantly take off and land.

My office also has a tiny little classroom with two computers and six desks as well as a gun rack. The gun rack is never really used though. My “students” prefer to keep their assault rifles by their sides, “just in case.”

Attacks have become frequent too. Overlooking the base are mountains and in those mountains are men who want you dead. It’s very disconcerting when you think about it, so the only solution is to not. Of course this not so easy when you walk to the bathroom and a rocket whistles over your head.

Immediately the speaker system is activated, “Incoming, incoming” followed by, “Get in your bunkers.” Believe it or not, you get used to it. After the speakers announce, “All clear” people leave whatever building they are in, chain smoke about four cigarettes, and thank God to still be alive.

What always amazes me are the little things. For example, at night there are no lights aloud outside. Complete darkness. You must use a flashlight with a colored bulb. Never have I experienced true darkness of that nature. It really makes one appreciate the moon.

I have also come to appreciate the animal food chain. Afghanistan has a very wild terrain and within this terrain are some very deadly critters. There are over four different types of poisonous snakes that have been found on the base, — one of which, the base hospital doesn’t have the anti-venom for.

Anyway, the snakes are here to eat the mice, which are literally everywhere. Luckily for me, next to my office is a giant shipping container that has a family of Bengal Monitor lizards. These guys are between 3 to 4 feet in length and they also love eating snakes. So I don’t need to worry about snakes for the time being.

As I prepare to say my farewell, the sound of giant howitzer guns can be heard outside and felt inside. Each bang vibrates the building worse than an earthquake. All in all it doesn’t even faze me anymore, as long as it keeps the bad guys away.

-Batu McEslin