News: Airmen, Kyrgyz students ring in 'First Bell'
Story by Master Sgt. Jason Vaught
NIZNECHUISKIY VILLAGE, Kyrgyzstan -- The first day of school across the Kyrgyz Republic is a welcome celebration known as "First Bell" and is deeply rooted in a Russian tradition that takes place each year on Sept. 1.
First Bell marks a rite of passage where seniors, in their last year of studies, escort first-year students in a ceremony symbolizing the start of a new school year. The ceremony closes when a senior student hoists a first-year student onto their shoulders and walks about the crowd ringing a bell to signal the first day of school.
Airmen from the Transit Center at Manas traveled to Niznechuiskiy School 1 to help celebrate the ringing of the First Bell with students and village partners from Niznechuiskiy Village, Kyrgyzstan, Sept. 1, 2012. The airmen also brought the students new sports equipment and uniforms to help start the new school year.
"Welcome to your first day of school, students," said Col. Shirlene Ostrov, 376th Expeditionary Mission Support Group commander, during her remarks to the students, faculty and staff. "We are honored to be part of your First Bell ceremony and congratulate all the children on such an important day."
"To the teachers and parents, we have the utmost respect for what you do and the difference you make in these children's lives," said Ostrov who is a native of Honolulu.
The ceremony included poems recited by the first year and senior students. First graders recited versus from a Russian school poem to let everyone know, "Hello school, we are first graders now!" Seniors shared words wisdom for the new students--"Study hard, make new friends and you will do well."
"Going to school in the states is totally different, this ceremony really shows how much emphasis is placed on education, from the first year all the way until their last year," said Master Sgt. Tammy Bean, 376 EMSG administrative assistant. "It was an honor and just awesome to be a part of the First Bell ceremony."
"To see the children's faces light up when they saw the sports equipment and uniforms we brought was a rewarding experience," said Bean who is deployed from Joint Base San Antonio and is a native of Colorado Springs, Colo.
During the visit, Village Mayor and 376 EMSG Honorary Commander Ramazon Basarov took the airmen on a tour of the school and neighboring children's orphanage.
"The airmen from the Transit Center have done a lot of good for the schools and orphanages here," said Basarov. "It's been very helpful to our village."
Partnerships between the Transit Center and the local community are strengthened through programs such as the Honorary Commanders' program. Civic leaders around the Kyrgyz Republic are paired with commanders from the Transit Center to build partnerships.
"Today we were invited by Mayor Ramazon to share in the villages First Bell ceremony," said Chief Master Sgt. Leonard Thibodeaux, 376 EMSG superintendent. "Being a part of this ceremony today shows the great relations we have with our Honorary Commander."
"Seeing the student's commitment to learning from first year to their last year goes to show how much they value education to better themselves and helping their country," said Thibodeaux who is a native of Crestview, Fla.
Date Posted:09.04.2012 03:17
Location:NIZNECHUISKIY VILLAGE, KG
Hometown:ATLANTIC CITY, NJ, US
Hometown:COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, US
Hometown:CRESTVIEW, FL, US
Hometown:HONOLULU, HI, US