I met UMass journalism student Ben Brody last year when we chatted about what courses he should be taking. When we talk about “learning by doing,” Ben truly takes it to heart. I told Ben I wanted to keep up with his travels this summer, and I recently had a Q&A with him over e-mail. If you have any questions for Ben, leave them in the comments section and I will try and do an updated version in a couple of weeks:
July 12: Things are crazy in Kandahar City with AWK’s assassination this
morning. Since I’m tied to the computer anyway, here are some
1. What are you doing this summer? I’m working for GlobalPost in Afghanistan covering the aftermath of last year’s troop surge, which I spent four months covering as well. At this point I’m still planning to return to UMass in the fall.
2. How did you end up in Afghanistan? What is your background? I am a former Army combat photographer and am deeply interested in America’s military commitments overseas. I spent more than two years in Iraq when that was the main story. Afghanistan is the main friction point right now, so of course that’s where I am.
3. How did you end up at UMass? When I left the Army I knew I wanted to live in the Pioneer Valley and attend school. Some of my friends went to UMass after high school
and did very well for themselves. So I applied, got in, and have two semesters left.
4. Tell us about the conditions in Afghanistan this summer. Southern Afghanistan is hot, dry and violent in the summer. Some areas are better than last year so far, and some are about the same. I wouldn’t say there’s anywhere in the south that’s more violent than last year. Land mines, both manufactured and improvised, are a major
threat down here. The casualty figures don’t reflect the scores of soldiers who are being maimed every week here. The typical result of stepping on a mine is the loss of both legs, and often one arm.
5. Do you feel like you’re making a difference? Was I supposed to be making a difference? America has been fighting in Afghanistan for ten years. What is different about Afghanistan now?
Here is some of Ben’s work:
Much of Ben’s journalism can be found on GlobalPost’s AfPak blog.