By Army Maj. Matthew DeVivo
North Carolina National Guard
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (2/25/13) - Six soldiers from the North Carolina National Guard’s 210th Military Police Company are in the final phase of an intense six-week Dari language and Afghan cultural training course here.
The 210th Military Police Company, based in Franklin, N.C., is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan this spring and was selected to provide soldiers to this pilot program.
The program is designed to establish and build enduring partnerships between the North Carolina National Guard, North Carolina State University and other state agencies and businesses in order to provide future opportunities for civilian and military collaboration.
“Collaboration and partnerships between the military and North Carolina civilian organizations and businesses is what N.C. Military Foundation is all about,” said Meg O’Donnell, a public relations consultant for the Raleigh-based foundation.
N.C. Military Foundation’s organizational webpage states that its purpose is “to forge meaningful relationships with institutions and decision makers for the benefit of the state.”
“They [N.C. Military Foundation] made partnering N.C. State and the N.C. National Guard effortless, and allowed everyone involved the ability to develop working relationships that will surely benefit all parties,” said Dr. Dwight Stephens, the program director for NCSU’s Language Training Center. “This new partnership with the N.C. National Guard is part of a larger joint endeavor connecting the University of North Carolina system and the military across the state.”
"The course has been hard, but is outstanding,” said Army Staff Sgt. Curvis Brook, a 210th soldier and Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, from Shelby, N.C. “As a squad leader, I will bring this knowledge back to the unit and teach my team basic language phrases and Afghan cultural do's and don’ts.”
Brooks, along with the rest of the 210th students, had nothing but positive things to say about this experience.
“Our instructor, Taza Hussein, is incredibly patient with us. Being an Afghan who lived there for half his life has brought realism, knowledge and experience to this course,” said Brooks.
Tazagul Hussein, the Dari language instructor, was born in Konduz, Afghanistan. He worked for the Afghan government in the 80s, but when the Taliban took control of the country in the early 1990s and ignited a brutal civil war, Hussein and his family left Afghanistan and now live in Virginia.
“Language and cultural understanding, when used properly, can be a powerful thing," said Hussein. “I want to help teach these men a skill that vastly increases their potential to succeed.”
Hussein explained, “I gave each student an Afghan name, and from that time forward in the class, I spoke as little English as possible, in order to make the Dari language a part of their everyday life here.”
Stephens described this language program as “functional language training that teaches students real-life situational communication skills with less focus on grammar and the conventional academic outline for learning a language and more emphasis on task-based language phrases that support conflict resolution, social mediation and scenarios that these soldiers will face in country, such as: check points and vehicle and civilian body searches, meeting with local Afghan leaders and investigative phrases.”
To determine how effective the course has been for these guard members, each student was interviewed in Dari by the journalist. Every soldier understood the questions and replied back to the journalist in Dari.
With this pilot language program off to an impressive start, and the strong partnerships being fostered between North Carolina National Guard, North Carolina State and other stake holders, there seems no limit to what training and opportunities await the Always Ready Team that is the North Carolina National Guard.