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    Training and Inspiration are Reciprocal during Beyond the Horizon

    Ribbon Cutting at St. Matthew’s Government School

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Nichole Bonham | Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for new buildings at St. Matthew's Government School on...... read more read more

    Reciprocal was the word of the day at the St. Matthew’s Government School ribbon cutting ceremony June 12, 2017 in St. Matthew’s, Belize. Reciprocal training between military members from the U.S. and Belize, and reciprocal inspiration between the task force members who worked on the school, and the students who will occupy it.

    The ribbon cutting ceremony marked the conclusion of a three-month construction project completed by Beyond the Horizon 2017, a collaborative exercise between U.S. Army South, the Government of Belize and Central American partner nations working with local and international NGOs to provide humanitarian services throughout Belize.

    During his remarks at the ceremony, Col. John Simma, the Beyond the Horizon, task force commander, said, “Every opportunity we have to participate in Beyond the Horizon allows our Soldiers the opportunity to exchange critical expertise in construction and medical techniques with our partner nations, including Belize.”
    Later in his speech he added, “This exercise provides our Soldiers with a great training experience where they learn from Belizean engineers … on how to construct buildings here in Central and South America.”

    Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, the Honorable Patrick Faber, picked up on Col. Simma’s message that knowledge transfer had not been one-sided, but instead an exchange.

    “So they are learning as well,” Faber said. “And that, my friends, is very key for us to understand,” he said. “When we are in relationships with foreign countries, that relationship needs to be reciprocal.”

    After the ceremony, the site project manager for the new building, Sgt. 1st Class Isaias Diaz with the 471st Engineer Company from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, spoke about that collaborative effort.

    “Safety and construction codes are all very similar all over the world,” Diaz said, “but the execution part, we all have different ways of doing business. We put all that knowledge together to provide the quality they [the children] deserve.”

    Construction on the site included a new three-room building and a three-stall restroom facility. Ms. Michelle Murray, the school’s principal, said the school has been used in the past as a community center during hurricane warnings.

    “It will definitely make a difference to have additional safe structures available,” she said.

    Work ran ahead of schedule so Diaz and his team also managed to complete several projects of opportunity, including an extension to the concrete walkway planned for the new building and a brand new wooden walkway. They did some grading of the school grounds to improve drainage, and in Diaz’s words, “painted, painted, painted until the bucket was empty.”

    Diaz spoke of the sense of inspiration he gained from working on the school.

    “Knowing we’re giving these kids a place to learn so they can have a chance to shoot for more, it’s amazing,” he said.

    Diaz’s sentiment was echoed by one of his team members, Spc. Nathaniel Martinez, also from the 471st, while speaking to a class of pre-kindergarteners
    “I get up at three a.m., drive an hour, and work all day in the sun, and I do it with great joy because I’m building a school for you,” said Martinez.

    Martinez was one of several Beyond the Horizon team members who were asked to speak to individual classrooms as the staging area for the ceremony was being prepared. The team’s dedication during the project had been noticed by the teachers who chose the Soldiers as examples of the importance of hard work.
    “Stay in school,” Martinez encouraged them, “and one day you could be going to other countries and building buildings for people too.”

    The mutually beneficial nature of the relationship between the school and the Beyond the Horizon team was recognized by Village Chairperson Ms. Denis Cedeno during the ceremony.

    In her speech, Cedeno said, “We needed you as much as you needed us.”

    After speaking about the importance of education Cedeno concluded by saying, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”



    Date Taken: 06.12.2017
    Date Posted: 06.26.2017 09:04
    Story ID: 239158
    Location: BELMOPAN, BZ 

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