AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar—For the last 15 years, the American School of Doha has upheld the tradition of hosting the annual ASD Friendship Festival and has routinely welcomed military personnel. This year was no different, allowing Airmen from Al Udeid AB to lend a helping hand at the event, Feb. 24.
Airmen volunteering at the festival used this unique opportunity to interact with ASD students, parents, and staff, as well as local business owners and the many visitors that attended, to show not only a commitment to service, but also building partnerships.
Master Sgt. Mario Roque, site superintendent of the 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron, explained that volunteering is something that can take effort to carry out; it takes a certain type of character to want to get out and dedicate personal time to helping others. This can be even more difficult while deployed, as chances to volunteer are not as available given longer duty hours or minimal opportunities.
“When we deploy, we know the type of impact we have against the fight on terror, but we strive as Airmen to make a positive impact locally as well,” said Rogue.
Roque explained that he saw this as an opportunity to exemplify the Air Force core value of service before self, build camaraderie within his team, and make a positive impact in the local community by helping out at this large event.
“The Friendship Festival is the biggest event we put on all year; about 4 thousand people attend,” said Thomas Hawkins, director of ASD. “This festival brings people from the whole community together for nothing other than friendship and fun.”
The fun filled day spanned across ASD’s sports fields, cafeterias, hallways and the entire gymnasium. Bouncy houses, games, a dunk tank, food vendors and local businesses filled the campus and Airmen lent a hand with the initial set up, running a few of the games, and acting as adult supervision for other games.
Hawkins explained how much ASD loves their close tie to the military members from Al Udeid AB and tries to encourage interaction with military members as much as possible.
“It is great for our kids to see the military that we talk about, especially because we talk about the meaning of service,” said Hawkins. “We appreciate the numerous military members willing to come out and help us because they serve as good roles models for our students.”
When asked what he would want people to know about volunteering for this event, Tech. Sgt. Patrick Reese, a project manager with the 557th ERHS said, “Try to get out and meet people; let the children who are tomorrow’s future see that no matter what is going on in the world, we can come together and enjoy each other’s differences.”