“It's not the teaching, it's the learning.”

Sly Stone

Water Water Everywhere

The military takes personal hydration very seriously in desert climates such as the Middle East and Southwest Asia. The health risks associated with dehydration are serious and can result in degradation of operational strength and effectiveness. In many locales including Afghanistan, reliable sources of clean water and the infrastructures required to facilitate their delivery do not exist. The military tackles this problem the same way many other issues are addressed – with commercial contracts. The contract water provisioning model is common throughout the region. The process begins with a local provider who sends truckloads of palletized cases of water bottles to the compound as demand dictates. The pallets are then distributed throughout the compound where they are gradually depleted over the course of days as people carry away the individual cases. Here on the KAIA compound, the water supplier is a Coca-Cola licensed bottler in Kabul. The product is of decent quality and is comparable to bottled water products sold in the States. Individual bottles are shrink-wrapped into cases of a dozen which are easily carried, stowed or transported as needed. This water supply is continuous and free for the taking. As a result, cases and bottles find their way into every nook and cranny conceivable. They’re found in offices, living quarters, vehicles, aircraft, mini-fridges, backpacks, coat pockets, recreational spaces, dining facilities, and anywhere else on the compound one can imagine. In addition to drinking, bottled water has many other uses on KAIA. Tap water on the compound isn’t potable, so bottled water is utilized for brushing teeth, brewing coffee or tea, nuking cups of noodles, and any other...

First Snow

Yesterday, Kabul and the surrounding area received its first blanketing of snow for the 2013 winter season. Snow had been promised in previous weeks’ forecasts, but nothing materialized until now. It was quite a surprise to see the gorgeous layer of white, having been outside late the previous night for a fire drill. Someone who opted to remain anonymous incinerated a bag of popcorn in a communal microwave. The sky was completely clear, twinkling stars and all. At some point between 10:00pm and 6:00am, the skies saw fit to cut loose with several inches worth of white wonder. For the most part, operations on the compound didn’t miss a beat. People trudged through to their respective destinations. Once windows were cleared, vehicles were drivable save for a few dead batteries. Throughout the day, snowball fights ensued and snowmen were sculpted. Interestingly, the Jordanians were particularly skilled in the latter art. Who knew. As with snowfall in many areas, the beauty and novelty quickly gave way to a slushy and often icy mess. The comedy of numerous near slips-and-falls by KAIA residents on the scattered patches of ice relieved a bit of the sting of the frosty temperatures. The snow made many Afghans happy. Perhaps like many Americans, they believe a winter isn’t a winter without at least one good winter wonderland. I emphatically disagree and am counting the days until the temperatures begin to climb into something even resembling a habitable...

KAIA – A First Look

KAIA is the abbreviated name of the NATO ISAF compound located on the north side of Kabul International Airport. It is home to roughly four thousand military and civilian residents from dozens of nations. It is a hub for ISAF operations in the region, particularly in terms of air transportation, medical support and mentorship of the Afghan Air Force. Sights. Kabul resides in a river valley corralled by mountains that dominate the horizon in virtually every direction. To the north and west lie the magnificent peaks of the Hindu Kush range that are blanketed with snow during the winter. These mountains form a basin that contains not only Kabul, but some of the worst air quality in the world. A persistent haze plagues the city – a mix of dust, industrial pollution, vehicle emissions, smoke from whatever Afghans can burn to stay warm, and who knows what else. On the rare clear days, the views are stunning and the neighborhoods of Kabul that creep up into the foothills can be seen from the airport. While the KAIA compound in many ways resembles a typical military installation, it also possesses some unique features. Due to the dozens of member nations that support the ISAF mission here, a parade of military uniforms exists that sport every variation of desert camouflage you can imagine. Some nations defy local fashion and instead flaunt their native woodland camo of greens and browns – the French and the Czechs come to mind. Then there are the guns. So many guns. Virtually every military member and many civilian contractors are armed 24/7 with either assault rifles,...

Who I Am

My name is Jared Sarkisian. I am a husband and father of two. I was born and raised in Southern California and have lived and worked in a variety of places. Through my work, studies, and personal interests, I have developed a deep appreciation and enthusiasm for new people, places, and experiences. With this blog and photo gallery, I will attempt to share with you my learning, teaching and travel adventures.

Enjoy your visit.

What I Do

I am an English language trainer committed to guiding and inspiring learners of English for personal enrichment, academic success, career growth, and access to global opportunities. I strive to cultivate meaningful relationships, serve as an ambassador for my native language and culture, provide positive and productive language learning experiences, and broaden my skills and abilities as a facilitator of language acquisition.

As long as I am able, I will pursue compelling learning and teaching opportunities wherever in the world they may be found.

Where I Am

My current assignment is located on the ISAF Camp KAIA compound at the Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan.

Camp KAIA, along with the Afghan Air Force compound, is located on the north side of the runway; the civilian domestic and international terminals occupy the south side.