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    Poetry provides perspective, develops understanding, and showcases abilities

    Poetry provides perspective, develops understanding, and showcases abilities

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Tina Villalobos | KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait — Poetry reading and discussion participants pose together after...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Tina Villalobos 

    Task Force Spartan

    KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait — Six soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 28th Infantry Division, were among more than 20 participants at a poetry reading and group discussion held in Kuwait City, at Training Gate International, May 2.
    “It’s important that our soldiers get involved in the community,” said Maj. Amanda Harrah, deputy civil affairs officer, 28th Infantry Division, “Task Force Spartan soldiers need to actually see our partnership for themselves, not just talk about it. They need to have an opportunity to develop relationships and friendships. Then they can fully understand why we do what we do.”
    Nestled on the ninth floor of the Panasonic Tower, Training Gate International is the first and only non-profit organization in Kuwait focused on the training, skill development and holistic needs of persons with disabilities. Established in 2009, by founder Kefaih Al-Alban and general manager Nora Al-Othman, the organization provides a weekly forum to showcase the abilities of persons with disabilities. Training Gate International works closely with the American Embassy as well as the U.S. State Department, according to Al-Alban.
    Weekly meeting sessions are part of an overall mission to improve social relationships, empower participants, and enhance positive human values.
    “I was inspired by a life-long friend who has disabilities, as well as the loss of my son due to cancer at only 24 years old,” said Al-Alban. “I had also worked for many years as a teacher for people with disabilities. After I retired, I knew I had to do something with my time and energy. I wanted to help people in society, and this is a dream for humanity.”
    After participant introductions, poet Maisa Al-Dhafeeri read several of her published poems. A translator was on hand to explain the overall meaning of each of the Arabic poems. Having become disabled at age 14, Al-Dhafeeri turned to poetry as a means of positive expression and to remain actively engaged in society.
    “The poet was describing her struggles and how she was trying to overcome. She had a lot of strength and optimism. Those are really honorable qualities to have,” said Spc. Kristy Stover, a Signal Company nodal network systems operator. “Her demeanor helped me as a person, because in a way, I kind of isolate myself like she was describing. I don’t have a disability like she does, but I have similar emotions sometimes — so her poetry inspired me and gave me motivation. It gave me more strength to step out of my comfort zone, because I am normally an introvert, and this is something I am trying to work on.”
    With each weekly meeting, conversation is prompted by discussion of a word. The word ‘understanding’ was central to this week’s discussion, and it promoted in-depth interaction among attendees. As a multitude of refreshments were served, participants shared with one another their thoughts of the meaning of ‘understanding’ as well as its influence on their lives.
    Sgt. 1st Class Ayo Lewis, noncommissioned officer in charge, civil affairs section, HHBN, expressed his appreciation and found the event beneficial to both U.S. and Kuwaiti participants.
    “I think it gives us a different perspective, as U.S. soldiers, and to the Kuwaitis as well. At the end of the day, we’re on the same team,” said Lewis. “The most valuable part of the event for me was the discussion around understanding. I learned that you don’t have to agree with what the other person is saying, but do you need to understand where they’re coming from. People don’t have to agree, but it is important that they understand and respect one another.”
    Inasmuch as the troops expressed their appreciation for the hospitality and welcoming of their Kuwaiti hosts, they left with the knowledge that their involvement in the community made a difference as well.
    “Your presence here is a gift to us. When you come here and you smile and support us by words, it makes a difference,” said Al-Alban.
    Harrah expressed the importance of more involvement among the troops.
    “Soldiers can participate and at every level,” said Harrah. “Building great relationships and being able to effectively communicate are the secret ingredients to winning any battle whether it is personal or professional.”



    Date Taken: 05.02.2018
    Date Posted: 05.22.2018 05:44
    Story ID: 277842
    Location: CAMP ARIFJAN, KW 

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