News: Transit Center representatives return to Birdik school for special graduation
Story by Tech. Sgt. Rachel Martinez
TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan - Representatives from the Transit Center at Manas joined in this special moment for nine students at Birdik Village School. The ceremony was made even more significant by the fact that this was the first class of students to graduate who had completed all four years of secondary education at the school since it was renovated and reopened in 2009.
"It's wonderful to be back at Birdik Village School," said Col. Corey Martin, Transit Center at Manas director. "Congratulations to the students, teachers, administrators and parents on a wonderful year. But most importantly, congratulations to the graduating students who spent the last four years at this beautiful Birdik school."
Birdik Village School was renovated in 2009 as part of a humanitarian assistance project managed by U.S. Air Forces Central Command and the Transit Center. Prior to renovation, the 40-year-old school building had been sitting empty for more than 10 years. The $678,000 project included renovations of the electrical transformer/generator, coal fire boilers, septic system, sidewalks, perimeter fence, exterior façade and metal roof. Additionally, the project included new paint, windows, interior finishes, fire alarm and security system, as well as $150,000 worth of furniture and equipment.
The project set a benchmark for humanitarian assistance projects. Since the renovation, representatives of the Transit Center have maintained a partnership with the school, visiting at least once a month to provide English lessons and participate in social events, such as the graduation ceremony, with the students and staff.
"Today is a wonderful day," said Olga Voroshihina, Birdik Village School principal. "I think our school is most happy to celebrate today's events - the end of the school year and graduation - because we had an opportunity to meet with the leadership of the Transit Center and they blessed us with their presence at today's ceremony. I would say our relationship is not only very close since the realization of this project, but I would also say it is a very warm relationship. Despite the fact that we might not always see representatives from the Transit Center, their presence is always felt and we have a very warm and close relationship."
The special graduation ceremony included a number of poems, songs and dances performed by graduates of each grade. The youngest students congratulated the oldest students, who in turn provided them advice on succeeding in school. Finally, certificates and academic achievement medals were awarded and it was time for the ringing of the last bell.
"We were very nervous this morning getting ready for today's events," said Elena Nikolaebna Meyer, a 16-year-old graduating student. "We thought we would meet the day with great happiness and be overjoyed. In actuality, it was very touching and we were overcome with a little bit of sadness because we realized we would no longer be able to come to this school and study with our teachers anymore. Despite the fact that today, we walked in to this graduation expecting and looking forward to becoming adults and starting the next part of our life, we're leaving here wishing we were still children and could stay here and study with these teachers a little bit longer."
These same emotions were felt by other graduating students.
Sixteen-year-old Galina Alexeyevna Trubnikova described the roller coaster of emotions she felt during the graduation.
"It is a significant day today, but for the most part, tears gather in my eyes when I stop and think I am not going to be coming to this school anymore," said Trubnikova, who plans to continue her studies and become a pediatrician. "These last four years have been the best of my life."
Before departing the school, students spoke with representatives from the Transit Center one last time.
"I would like to thank you for your help in the renovation of this building, which to me holds a very special place in my heart," Meyer said. "I hope my little brothers and little sisters who will now begin their educational path will experience the same amount of happiness and joy that I experienced and my classmates experienced here."
This work, Transit Center representatives return to Birdik school for special graduation, by TSgt Rachel Martinez, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.