TCM members help bring American Corners to Kyrgyz students

376th Air Expeditionary Wing
Story by Tech. Sgt. Rachel Martinez

Date: 05.17.2013
Posted: 05.23.2013 09:20
News ID: 107440
TCM members help bring American Corners to Kyrgyz students

TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan -- Each week, volunteers from the Transit Center at Manas help bring a little corner of America to the Kyrgyz people. <br /> <br /> The Transit Center's Theater Security Cooperation social cultural branch is responsible for hosting English language clubs at libraries in Bishkek and Kant as part of the American Corner. <br /> <br /> American Corner, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek, is an American-styled information resource center providing comprehensive and up-to-date information about the United States, and thus promoting mutual understanding between the American and Kyrgyz people. <br /> <br /> At the Bayalinov National Library of Kyrgyzstan, the social cultural branch hosts two weekly talking clubs. They also host a monthly talking club at the Chui Oblast Library in Kant. Each time, they take volunteers from the Transit Center to engage the participants in conversation on that day's topic.<br /> <br /> "Each week we go over a different topic and share American ideas through the language exchange," said Staff Sgt. Robert McGonagle, NCO in charge of TSC's social cultural branch. "It's an opportunity to see a different culture with different views and beliefs about the American way of life, all while promoting English language conversation skills."<br /> <br /> A typical talking club has anywhere between 20 and 40 Kyrgyz participants, mainly high school and college students. Meerim Suiundukova is a 23-year old student finishing her final year in university. She has been attending the American Corner talking clubs regularly for the past four months. <br /> <br /> "I come to practice my English and learn more about American culture and compare it to our culture," Suiundukova said. "I try to come every time. There are a lot of interesting topics. It's helpful because I get to practice more; I learn new words. If I don't know, I ask and they explain it to me."<br /> <br /> Suiundukova studied English in high school and has taken additional English courses, but the opportunity to practice the language with native speakers has been a huge benefit, she said. While Kyrgyz participants may gain the opportunity to improving language skills, there are many more benefits to the program for both Kyrgyz and American participants alike. <br /> <br /> "We want to learn about their culture," said McGonagle. "We want them to learn about us. I think we all walk away with a better understanding of each other. It's an eye-opening experience and one many people don't normally get. I encourage everyone to participate; it's an amazing experience you will never forget and the chance to build new friendships."