Airmen Spend Day With Chilean Children
(October 29, 2009)
Maj. Jana Nyerges waits with children from the
Angels Community Center outside a museum prior
to sponsoring the children's admission to the
science exhibits Oct. 13, 2009, in Santiago,
Chile. Airmen decided to use their first day in
Chile to sponsor a group of at-risk children
during a visit to the museum. (Courtesy photo)
SANTIAGO, Chile (10/23/2009 - AFNS)
Members of the Air Forces Southern
Cooperation Team-One began their nation building trip to Santiago, Chile, by
taking children to an interactive museum for children here Oct. 13.
Members of 12th Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard completed four days
of subject matter exchanges in Santiago in late October with Chilean air force
members and was a prelude to Exercise Salitre, a multinational humanitarian and
air operations exercise aimed at increasing the cooperation between American
Airmen and air force members from Chile, Brazil, Argentina and France.
"It's important to capitalize on every moment of our mission in Latin America to
build relationships with our friends -- whether that's Airmen in the (Chilean
air force) or with charitable organizations, it's all worth it," said Capt.
Randy Saldivar, a public affairs officer with the Texas Air National Guard -- an
organization with strong ties to Chile as part of the Texas-Chile State
Partnership Program. "After a quick nap, we put on our uniforms and jumped on a
bus to the school,"
For the 14 children of the Angels Community Center, a school for at-risk
children, and four adult caretakers, the event was an opportunity to visit a
world-renowned science museum built especially to educate children through
interactive displays. |
Pilar Paredes, the primary caretaker at the school, accompanied the group to the
"I've worked here for five years, and this is the first time we've had any sort
of outing with the children," she said. "We managed to keep this a secret until
just before the Airmen arrived. Once we announced the trip, the children were
very excited. This is a trip of a lifetime for them."
Organizing the day's outing required a team effort between US and Chilean
organizations. AFSOUTH operations and public affairs staff arranged
transportation while members of the U.S. Embassy-Chile worked with Chilean
executives at the museum for a special group admission rate and other
arrangements. Spouses of local Chile air force officers accompanied the group,
providing valuable translation skills and motherly patience. The AFSOUTH CT-1
Airmen brought candy and gifts for the entire school, and then each sponsored
three or four of the eager children's admission to the museum.
"The museum staff really treated the children...and us, like VIPs," Captain
Saldivar said. "The displays here are perfect for anyone. Children and adults
were able to learn about the world in a fun and educational environment; and
best of all was that every lesson is hands-on and interactive."
Airmen spent hours chasing their guests through mirrored halls, testing
electrical circuits, navigating optical illusions, levitating objects with air
currents, playing giant pianos in their socks, and lifting their friends on
chairs rigged to various pulleys. After an afternoon of learning, the team
headed back to the school, thankful for the experience, but sad at the impending
parting. Several of the children clung to Airmen, insisting on a few more
moments of attention, photographs and memories.
"Thank you for visiting us," said Ms. Paredes as she kissed each Airman. As the
visit drew to a close, the children presented Airmen with hand-made cards they
had colored themselves.
"We'll be back," exclaimed the Airmen as they opened the cards. The children
stood by as the team read the inscriptions inside the cards. The cards read, "En
cada ni�o una sonrisa y en cada sonrisa una gestitud," which in English means
"In every child a smile, in every smile is gratitude."
By USAF Capt. Nathan D. Broshear
12th Air Force Public Affairs
Air Force News Service
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