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This Is War: How USAID workers are trained for work and danger in Afghanistan

By Ed O'Keefe

By The Post's Kristin Henderson:

The two-story yellow-brick building had seen better days.
As a civilian USAID worker in Afghanistan, you can expect tough negotiations with tribal leaders, anger from villagers and constant enemy fire. And that's before you actually get there. (Post)
Laura Mendelson followed the American soldiers guarding her and the rest of the team of U.S. government employees up the crumbling concrete steps. The dimly lighted lobby was loud with the strident voices of a crowd of women in headscarves and long tunics. They shouted for the team's attention. They wanted something.
"Don't stop," said the soldiers. "Keep moving."
Mendelson wished she could make out what the women were shouting. Through the rush and commotion, she could tell they were speaking Dari and not Pashto, two of the most common languages in southern Afghanistan, but not much more. Forty-eight hours ago, she'd been in Washington getting ready for this. She's with the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, part of the State Department. She's a trained Arabic speaker. But in the push to deploy, no one on the team had had time for more than a couple of hours of Dari and Pashto instruction.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | July 2, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Workplace Issues  
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