Friday, May 2, 2008

SF bring together American, Afghan children

CJTF-101

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (April 24, 2008) – Elementary school children from the U.S. and Afghanistan met each other Wednesday over a video teleconference facilitated by the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, as part of a partnership program and cultural exchange. CJSOTF-A has been working with village elders, teachers, parents and students of the Jan Qadam elementary school, outside the gates of Bagram Air Field, to enable the school to become a more effective center of education. Coalition troops have been able to supply more than 1,200 students with notebooks, pens, pencils, backpacks, rules and glue to get them started on a good school year, with the help of Calvert City Elementary School in Calvert City, Kentucky.

Students and teachers from the Jan Qadam elementary school in Bagram clap at the answer a U.S. school child gave to a riddle they asked, during their first video teleconference. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marie Schult)The Jan Qadam students used a conference room on Bagram Air Field while the Calvert City students used a conference room at Fort Campbell, Ky. Young Afghan girls wearing black dresses and white scarves excitedly whispered to each other, about the pretty, colorful shirts and long loose hair of their American counterparts. The Afghan boys, dressed similar to any American child with jeans, shirts and baseball caps, fidgeted as they waited their turn to talk and answer questions.

One of the highlights of the conference was when a young, confident Afghan boy stood up and read a letter he wrote to the American students in almost perfect English. At the end of the letter he said he hoped the American students would try to learn Dari and talk to him some day.

“We have been enriched by this program,” said Phyllis O’neill, Calvert City Elementary School Principal. O’neill said she encourages her students to do volunteer work and explore other cultures to gain an understanding of those cultures. This is important for the U.S. students because it really shows them it’s not easy for other students to go to school and get an education, O’neill said. “I appreciate all the students for sending these items,” said the Jan Qadam headmaster. “We are relatively poor and all the kids here are really happy for the supplies.”

Most students wanted to know simple things about each other. They asked about school, choice of favorite foods, sports, and animals and what activities they do during recess. Some of the Afghan children tried to stump the Calvert students with riddles and they clapped joyfully when the answers came over the airwaves. However, this is not the first communications these students have had. A few months ago, some of the Calvert City students wrote letters to the Jan Qadam students and their Afghan peers are in the process of writing them back.

According to a coalition representative, the goal is for the relationship between these schools to continue in order to enrich all of the students and show the importance of education. The partnership is meant as an exchange that will continue for years; enriching the lives of both sets of students.

Students and teachers from the Jan Qadam elementary school in Bagram clap at the answer a U.S. school child gave to a riddle they asked, during their first video teleconference. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marie Schult).

Source: CENTCOM. Digg! Digg!

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