Skype sessions help break down cultural walls

| May 13, 2011 | 0 Comments
Staff Sgt. Toya Alexander-Cruz (left), chaplain’s assistant, “TF Bronco,” 3rd BCT, 25th ID; and Staff Sgt. Christine Hein, personnel noncommissioned officer, TF Bronco, 3rd BCT, participate in an Internet Skype session with Afghan school girls, from FOB Fenty, April 29. (Courtesy Photo)

Staff Sgt. Toya Alexander-Cruz (left), chaplain’s assistant, “TF Bronco,” 3rd BCT, 25th ID; and Staff Sgt. Christine Hein, personnel noncommissioned officer, TF Bronco, 3rd BCT, participate in an Internet Skype session with Afghan school girls, from FOB Fenty, April 29. (Courtesy Photo)

Staff Sgt. Amber Robinson
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division 

NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Female Soldiers with “Task Force Bronco,” 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, were able to reach out to Afghan school girls during a special Internet Skype session at Forward Operating Base Fenty, here, recently.

The program was created as a simple way for Afghan students to communicate with Soldiers, which will hopefully break down cultural barriers and provide both students and Soldiers with insight into each other’s worlds.

Anna Mussman, Public Diplomacy officer for TF Bronco put the series of Skype sessions into action.

“What the State Department is trying to do is connect as many Afghan people with as many Americans as possible,” Mussman said. “What we hope will come of that is a mutual understanding between the Soldiers and students.

“We have found that Afghans have a very narrow view of American Soldiers,” she said. “Not necessarily Americans, just the Soldiers. They may not understand fully what U.S. forces are here to do, and we hope to dissolve the preconceptions the Afghan youth may have about our Soldiers.”

Mussman hopes the Skype sessions will personalize Soldiers for the Afghan students and allow the Soldiers to understand the Afghan culture more fully, forming a foundation of communication that can continue to be built upon.

Both Soldiers and Afghan students were honored to have the opportunity to share with each other and were eager to learn more about the other.

“The girls were happy and excited to speak with us,” said Staff Sgt. Toya Alexander-Cruz, chaplain’s assistant, TF Bronco, 3rd BCT, “and I was excited to speak to them as well.”

The Afghan and American females found common ground, as they got to know each other, and discovered that many of their values were universal, such as family pride.

“I told them about my son, and they asked to see a photo,” Alexander-Cruz said. “I held up a photo of my son and they all said, ‘Aww’. They told me he was very handsome, and I should be proud of him.”

But, the Afghan girls and American Soldiers could not avoid the vast differences.

“I asked (one Afghan girl) what she wanted to be upon her graduation from school, and she said ‘a businesswoman,’” Alexander-Cruz said. “I then asked how many more of her classmates would like to be businesswoman as well. She said many of her classmates would like to be businesswomen, but some families do not believe in letting women go into business.”

Although many women still experience oppression in Afghanistan, there are many more that have been given the opportunity for an education for the first time in years. The female Soldiers of TF Bronco, 3rd BCT, hope their sessions with the Afghan girls provide hope and ideas for a brighter future, which is now possible through education and the vigilance of young Afghan women.

“I believe it is vitally important for these women to understand there are women in the world that are just as successful, if not more successful, than men,” said Staff Sgt. Christine Hein, personnel noncommissioned officer, TF Bronco, 3rd BCT. “I believe we can help to provide some of the tools and framework they may need to now succeed, but in the end, it is their own decision and deeds (that) will make the difference.”

Tags: , ,

Category: Deployed Forces, News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *