22 November 2011

who are we anyway?

Today I got something cool in the mail. And it wasn't from another college I don't intend on applying to. It wasn't a Thanksgiving card. It was a letter from Kabul, Afghanistan.
It was from a solider!
You see, about a month ago, I went to someone's house for a senior swim team meeting, and we all had to write letters to the soldiers. It all started because my assistant coach's son is in the army, but he now is on leave, so we are supporting another teacher's son and his troop in Afghanistan. And my coach said we can write our address on the letters we wrote, and they might write back.
And lo and behold, he wrote back.
He was the teacher's son, and he said that he and his group (I don't know what you call them, but a bunch of soldiers are at the same base together..a troop? I don't know) are building schools in Afghanistan to train the soldiers in the Afghan National Army. He said Afghanistan is the 5th poorest country in the world, and after doing some research, I found out that Niger, the Congo, Liberia, Somalia, and some other central African countries are also the poorest. Afghanistan is also the worst place in the world for women (from guardian.co.uk), along with India, the Congo, Pakistan, and Somalia.
He described what it's like living there. He said that most women wear burqas, which are big veils that cover your entire body (except your eyes), yet there are some women who take the rick of only wearing a head covering and "western" clothing.
And something I wouldn't have expected - and probably more so the entire country - is that the Afghans he has met have been pretty friendly. He said they are just people like us. While some of them have their reservations about Americans, there are others who don't. It's just like us. Many Americans are hesitant of people from the Middle East and Middle Eastern culture, believing it is made up of extremists. But this is just a misconception. I know people at school from the Middle East, and I know girls at school who wear head coverings. And to me, they are just high schoolers like me.
But everyone has reservations about people that they don't know. We are afraid of the unknown, and that is how humankind is. Fear of the unknown is not uncommon.

But really and truly, we are all the same on the inside. Same bones, same blood, same species. We all evolved from a common primate, and going back far enough, every living thing came from a prokaryotic cell. We are really no different, and that letter reminded me of it.
He said he will be coming home soon to see his wife and family. And his mom teaches at my school, so I think I'll show her the letter when we get back from Thanksgiving break.

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