Caring not lost in translation

  • Published
  • By Maj. Adriane Craig
  • 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Although his words had to be translated first into Russian and then into sign language, nothing was lost on the children of the Bishkek Boarding School for the Deaf when the chief of the Air Force Reserve arrived December 4 with the message that Americans care about the children of Kyrgyzstan.
Lt. Gen. John Bradley visited Manas Air Base and took a portion of his time in country to distribute 4,250 lbs of goods donated from the United States. The clothes, blankets and toys were gathered from donors under the work of the general's wife, Jan Bradley. Mrs. Bradley has created a network of support for children in need, enabling goodwill to be spread overseas. 

Here the goodwill was returned immediately when the school age children performed four traditional Kyrgyz dances to thank the Americans for their generosity. And nothing was lost in the translation on this end either as the music and dance transcended language. 

First-graders, fourth-graders, seventh-graders, and then high-school-age children danced complex, traditional routines in beautiful handmade costumes for the guests. And despite their hearing impairment, the performers didn't miss a beat. 

"They might not be able to hear the music with their ears, but they can hear it with their hearts," said Kanykei Jamanbaeva, director of the school. 

The American guests were quick studies on some of the key signing phrases, and used them to say 'thank you' and 'excellent.' They were also moved by the performances. 

"It was a true honor for us to get to see these routines. They were wonderful performances, and it was so enjoyable for us to see this part of your culture," said General Bradley. 

He also praised the director and the instructors for the work they were doing.
"What an amazing school. You are doing such great things for these kids and we're just proud to have been a small part of it." 

The school is home to more than 350 students, most of them orphans. Manas Air Base has a special relationship with the school through the Manas Air Base Outreach Society, a private service organization. MABOS volunteers visit the school and help the faculty by helping maintain the aging facility. Recently the group finished replacing the floors in two of the rooms. They hope to be able to renovate more areas of the building, which is almost 50 years old. 

Ms. Jamanbaeva, said she was so grateful for all of the assistance and for the visit today. "I can feel the American support," she said, adding that the mere presence was support in itself. "The kids love to perform for guests and love to see Americans. Come see us again, even without the gifts."