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Interpreting Opportunity

Pfc. Cody Thompson, Combined Joint Task Force - 82 PAO
2009-11-17

KUNAR PROVINCE, 11.17.2009Afghanistan At the age of 28, Sayed Alam left his native country Pakistan for America, and never thought he'd see the region again.

"America was better," said Sayed, now an American citizen of 27 years. "All my family knew this, so we moved there. In America opportunities are wide open and nothing is limited."

Sayed would work the next 20 years in various restaurants chains, until realizing the American dream, and opening a UPS store with his wife, in Kennesaw, Ga.

But wanting to give back, Sayed drew upon the half dozen languages he is fluent in, learning from his native Pakistan and working in the restaurant industry, Sayed submitted his resume to become an interpreter.

"[A] company contacted me after finding my information online, and offered me a job as a linguist in Afghanistan," said Sayed.

His new job took him to Combat Outpost Honaker-Miracle; less than 10-miles from the border of his native Pakistan, but far away from his family's new home.

"I enjoy working with these people," said Sayed. "The team is great and it's the best experience that I've had in my life."

For the past six-months, Sayed has worked with American forces translating the needs and concerns of the local population, but his most memorable experience was during the first week he arrived.

"They told me, Sayed lets go there's a mission," he remembered. "I got dressed and late at night we set out walking for six hours arresting insurgents."

Although, Sayed's wife, Tarana and their kids worry about him, they understand the necessity of his job.

"I worry about my husband because I know of the work he does," said Tarana. "But I know his work is important."

Sayed reassures his wife that with his new friends, he is safe. "I explain to her that because I work for the Army, I am never alone."

Keeping this in mind, Sayed looks at his journey to Afghanistan as a lesson for his children and opportunity for their future.

"America has given me so much that I wanted to give back," said Sayed. "This is a lesson for my kids. They see I had all of the luxury of living in America and still left. Not only does this job open doors for the future but [it] offers limitless opportunities."






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