A few weeks ago I saw a job listing for a language-education coordinator for refugee centers on Chios island in Greece. It seemed too good to be true. I had previously been an aid worker in Greece, I currently teach English as well as teacher certification courses, and I have extensive leadership experience. Most of all, Greece and aid work were calling me back. I was a perfect fit. I applied immediately.

I had mostly good experiences on the Greek islands as an aid worker and looked back with nostalgia. I started to read the news about my old stomping…

In 2005, I joined the military and learned Farsi, hoping to go to Afghanistan and spy on the Taliban. I went to Iraq instead. In 2015 and 2017, I finally used my military linguist training, but far from Afghanistan — after a communication mishap I found myself living at a refugee camp in Greece, assisting the Afghans fleeing the Taliban.

Last year, Medium contacted me to write an article about that experience. …

I had just finished two years of travel. I needed stability more than anything, until I found it.

Flights are a great place to think. They’re uncomfortable and make it difficult to focus, but when you can’t sleep because the man in the next seat is drooling on your shoulder, there’s not much else to do. So you think.

Not long ago I was on a flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles. It was the end of a two-year adventure which had broken me physically, mentally, and financially. It was a trip I wouldn’t change a thing about.

Since I…

I want to feel sad like everyone else as I think of Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country

I want to be thankful. I’m trying to celebrate the life and mourn the death of a friend, Sergeant Ryan Connolly. We were the only Californians in our squad in boot camp and we hit it off immediately. After graduating, we exchanged email addresses and parted ways. He was sent to Germany while I wound up in Georgia. We rarely spoke unless sharing a major life event, such as his marriage or the birth of his daughter. The last time I tried to get in touch, I saw an obituary instead. It was June of 2008 and Ryan was scheduled…

I learned Farsi to be an army spy — a decade later, it became my tool to help refugees

How did I get here?

Sayed couldn’t lift his arms above his shoulder, so his friend helped him take his shirt off. What I saw didn’t surprise me anymore, but I still got just as nauseous: Sayed had grotesque stitch marks going around his shoulder, seemingly connecting his arm to his body. He told me those were from being hung by a bar shoved under his shoulders for a month. The long scar on his stomach looked like a stab wound, though he swore it was only from being beaten with a pipe when his captors got bored. Sayed’s bent…

Jason Powers

Explorer, aid worker, teacher, and the luckiest man alive. Everything: www.JasonPowersBooks.com

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