FORT LEE, Va. — Cultural awareness training, held three days a week, are offered to Afghan personnel by Task Force Eagle services as part of Operation Allies Welcome on Fort Lee, Virginia. The courses help newly arrived Afghans learn about employment opportunities and how to transition into American culture.
Pamela Morris, an employee at the United States Agency for International Development, works with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help find people jobs. She also assists with transitioning Afghan personnel into society using modules about transportation, cultural awareness, acclimation, and the rights they have in the places they live.
In addition to these programs, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are being held for personnel who want to increase their language proficiency.
Lee Blaser, a contracted employee for the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), holds English classes and cultural adjustment courses. The classes provide basic English, such as introducing yourself and writing your name, to more advanced English to help Afghans navigate their new life in the U.S.
“We try to use a strengths-based approach to this,” said Blaser. “A lot of these folks speak multiple languages and so we want to acknowledge that they have a lot of skills and experience already.”
Andrew Doty, a volunteer with HHS, also joined in with Blaser to provide services with specific goals in mind as Afghans transition to life in the United States.
“[The] big goal is to get people to have basic conversations when they’re entering new communities,” explained Doty. “They can introduce themselves and show they are excited when entering new communities.”
Both classes continue to be available on Fort Lee for Afghans before resettlement in the U.S.
“The classes support those in need while helping anyone willing to learn," concluded Doty.” “[With the] understanding that it’s going to be a lot of ups and downs as they adjust to things."
The Department of Defense, through U.S. Northern Command, and in support of the Department of Homeland Security, is providing transportation, temporary housing, medical screening, and general support for at least 50,000 Afghan evacuees at suitable facilities, in permanent or temporary structures, as quickly as possible. This initiative provides Afghan personnel essential support at secure locations outside Afghanistan.