American Forces Press Service
March 28, 2008 - The first day of school at Jan Qadam elementary school in Afghanistan's Parwan province March 24 was alive with throngs of excited children, dignitaries, government officials and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan soldiers who dedicated a new school library and science lab. Adul Waquel, head of the District Development Council, specifically thanked the children of Calvert City Elementary School, in Calvert City, Ky., for their partnership with the Jan Qadam School. Waquel noted the importance of the relationship between the school and all those who helped make it a great place to learn.
"The partnership between the schools is a community-based initiative between the people and students of Calvert City Elementary School and the Jan Qadam School and community," said Army Lt. Col. Kenneth Watson, a member of the special operations task force.
After the speeches and a prayer, the new school library was dedicated to Afghan Gen. Baba Jan, a retired Afghan military commander who donated the land for the school. The library is filled with books donated by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The distinguished guests and visitors toured the school and visited the new science lab. It is the only science lab in the Bagram School District, which has 32 schools, including seven high schools.
"School is the factory that produces positive individuals for society," Waquel said.
Jan Qadam hosts more than 1,200 students who are taught in two shifts.
Village elders passed out backpacks to more than 500 students, and Calvert Elementary children donated notebooks, pens, pencils, glue and rulers to their Afghan counterparts.
The partnership with Calvert Elementary is just beginning. In addition to the supplies provided, students from a second-grade class there wrote letters to students at the Jan Qadam school. Calvert students were mostly interested in what Afghan children do at home during their free time.
"My name is Erin, I'm from Calvert, Kentucky," one of the letters starts out. "I can't wait to learn about your culture."
Most of the Calvert students seemed interested in the differences between Afghan children and American children, with most listing their favorite sports and after-school activities.
"It bridges cultures and helps educate future generations about other people who share our world," Watson said.
"We will pass the translated letters out to the Afghan children and send their replies back to the states," a coalition commander said. "Sometime in the next few months, students from Calvert City will travel to Fort Campbell, Ky., to have a video teleconference with some of the Afghan students."
"It was a great day for the people of Jan Qadam, the Ministry of Education, the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and coalition forces," Watson said. "It reinforces our ties and commitment to the community and people of Afghanistan and helps foster an enduring relationship."
(From a Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan news release.)