News: US Embassy in Bishkek, Transit Center at Manas service members celebrate American Corners 10-year anniversary
Story by Staff Sgt. Krystie Martinez
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek partnered with Transit Center at Manas service members to kick off the American Corners program's 10-year anniversary celebration at the Bayalinov National Library of Kyrgyzstan, June 4.
The American Corners program, launched in Kyrgyzstan by the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek in 2003, provides a path of communication and learning between American and Kyrgyz people, allowing an exchange of languages, cultures and life experiences.
"To celebrate 10 years in the country, we are doing a road trip with American Corners and we're starting in Bishkek," said Robin Solomon, assistant public affairs officer, U.S. Embassy in Bishkek. "We're taking this outdoor American Corners on the road to visit all of the cities where we have American Corners programs, but we'll also go to a few other cities that don't have American Corners to bring some of the same kind of activities to them."
The celebration at the library included a playground opening, a musical performance by an American jazz band, an open house and remarks by Ambassador Pamela Spratlen, U.S. Embassy in Bishkek.
Transit Center personnel were invited to play sports and interact with the youth attending the celebration. For them, the celebration was more than another volunteer opportunity; it was a way to give back to the community that supports them and their mission.
"This program is very important because, for one, we're here to do a mission to send personnel downrange and we wouldn't be able to do that without the help of our host nation," said Staff Sgt. Robert McGonagle, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Theater Security Cooperation division noncommissioned officer in charge of social cultural branch and volunteer. "It's very important that we're here to build that rapport with them and give back to the community."
The Transit Center's TSC social cultural branch provides volunteers to host weekly English language clubs, known as talking clubs, at American Corners in Bishkek and Kant libraries, giving locals the opportunity to practice their English skills with native speakers.
"A lot of young people come to American Corners to participate in talking clubs, which are held by the Airmen at the Transit Center," said Roza Sultangazieva, Bayalinov National Library director. "They [volunteers and students] communicate, and I think what TCM Airmen do at American Corners is very important, as it contributes to the growth of young participants and creates a mutual understanding between the U.S. and Kyrgyzstan."
The Ambassador echoed Sultangazieva's appreciation for the specific talents young airmen bring to the talking clubs at the Bishkek American Corners.
"The Transit Center has been an awesome partner and has provided young people who bring American culture. They're the ones who know what the latest slang, books and movies are," Spratlen said. "We are very grateful for our partners at the Transit Center...and the Air Force for its willingness to allow this type of cooperation to blossom."
This work, US Embassy in Bishkek, Transit Center at Manas service members celebrate American Corners 10-year anniversary, by SSgt Krystie Martinez, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.