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    Female engagement team teaches culture to Afghan children



    Story by Spc. Elizabeth Raney 

    4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division

    KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - The female engagement team assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Divsion, is trying to benefit the children of Kunar province in a different way.

    Once a week the soldiers bring 40 children onto Combat Outpost Penich to hold a cultural awareness youth shura for children to learn about a culture different than their own.

    Cpl. Isidra Reyna, a native of Valley Center, Calif., the non-commissioned officer in charge of the FET at COP Penich, spoke about the most recent shura, held July 14.

    “Today we did Native Americans,” Reyna said. “We teach the kids...some basic facts about the culture. We talk about their art work or what’s important to [that culture].”

    Reyna said the children also do a craft and listen to music that relates to the culture. They also play games relating to that culture, and learn how to say hello and goodbye in the language of the week.

    Spc. Andrea Weatherman, a native of Lewisville, Texas, a FET member with Company A, said this week was a good class.

    “The kids were all participating, the majority of the adults were participating as well, even the interpreters got in on it, so it was fun,” Weatherman said.

    Weatherman explained how the classes came to be.

    “The original idea was for different classes every week, like hygiene, culture, things like that, but when we approached the commander with it, he brought up the fact that it would be a really good idea, that instead of putting culture all in one week, to spread it out,” she explained. “We went through and we looked at the map and picked out countries and cultures that we thought were interesting and we thought perhaps the kids would not get an opportunity to experience without an outside presence, so we picked those that we thought we could do without negatively impacting their culture here.”

    “I think this impacts the kids in a positive way because they get to do something they usually don’t get to do,” Reyna said. “It’s a break from their daily lives and they get to learn something different than they do in school.”

    Weatherman expressed a similar opinion.

    “I know that some of them don’t come for anything other than the treats that they get,” Weatherman said, “but I know that some of them actually take away things from what they learn here.”

    She went on to say that some of the children remember the greetings they learn the previous week and use them when they come back.

    “So, we know that at least some of them are paying attention, learning, and wanting to learn,” Weatherman said.

    Reyna spoke briefly about the sustainability of the project after their team leaves.

    “What we’re trying to do is submit an application to the state department to build a [recreation] center for the kids where these cultural shuras would continue,” she said.

    Both Reyna and Weatherman said the classes were worth all the time and effort just to see the children smile and enjoy themselves.


    Date Taken: 07.14.2012
    Date Posted: 07.17.2012 02:30
    Story ID: 91653
    Location: KUNAR PROVINCE, AF

    Web Views: 467
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