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Girl talk

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Trish Bunting
  • ACCE Public Affairs
As I closed my eyes, I listened to the sounds all around me, the greetings and the laughing could have come from any group of women in the United States, Canada, Germany and even Iraq. Women are women, no matter where we are!

We all met at an agreed upon location on Victory Base Complex and the weekly meeting started with the Iraqi women greeting the America women with the customary kiss on the cheek followed by, "hello." As I watched the greetings, it seemed that the custom of kissing on both cheeks was natural for the American women.

As we filled the small living room, more than fifteen Iraqi military wives and daughters, of various ages, met with fifteen Air Force enlisted women ranging in rank from senior airmen up to senior master sergeant to interact and teach them English. Everyone intermingled, eventually gathering around the broken white board and settling down into their seats. The worn couches and simple décor in the room seemed to bring a comfort to those of us who missed home.

The Air Force personnel take turns teaching the evening's lesson and any basic introductory level homework that might be given for the week. Senior Airman Alexandra Kurz's fair skin, blonde hair and confident personality seemed to automatically gain the attention of everyone in the room as she took charge of the group.

This evening, Airman Kurz's agenda was about learning articles such as "the, an, a, this, that, these and those;" and how to use them in a sentence. In her native German/English accent she explained to the ladies , when referring to just any clock you state "a clock." When speaking about a specific clock, state "the clock."

As I looked around the dimly lit room, there seemed to be no question as to what exactly she was referring to.

So how do you bring together outgoing, energized, United States, military women and quiet, conservative, Iraqi women and find ways to communicate? We did what most women do when we get together: We played games!

Each Iraqi woman received a card with a picture on it, which she used to form a sentence about what was on the card. The simplest of games seemed to bring the most enjoyment.

"We took something very simple and we made it very entertaining,"said Master Sgt. Angela Carter, a volunteer that attended. "A simple game like Tic-Tac-Toe. It's something we grew out of when we were children, but it brings us back being young again."

The lack of air conditioning in the room, with sweat rolling down the sides of our faces, didn't seem to matter. As the evening continued, with each game that was played, more hands would raise eagerly in anticipation of being called upon. With each correct statement the room would break into applause. To watch the Iraqi women's determination and desire to learn was an inspiration.

"There's a heart, there's a face, and there's a humanity to what we bring," said Master Sgt Jessyca Hilar, a sweet Minnesota native on her fourth deployment who currently runs the program. The excitement and sincerity shows each time she speaks about the program. "I've gotten their e-mail addresses and I hope they write."

As a deployed U.S. servicewoman, being the minority can sometimes wear you down emotionally. I signed up and I am always prepared to do what needs to be done, but there are just certain things a woman needs--and sometimes just a couple of hours with the "girls" can be enough to recharge your batteries. This gathering allowed me to be a girl again, if only for a few hours.