AU honors Alabama Goodwill Ambassadors|
by Airman 1st Class Christopher S. Stoltz
Air University Public Affairs
2/11/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The annual 2011 Alabama Goodwill Ambassador's Appreciation Night, held at the Officers' Club Feb. 3, honored sponsors who volunteer their time so international officers attending Air University schools will have a better experience during their visit to Maxwell.
The event included more than 400 people this year, including about 125 AGA sponsors and more than 180 international officers from 79 different countries.
The AGA program, which began in 1966, is a collaboration between Air University and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. The AGA Appreciation Night is sponsored by Air University and was started in 1978.
Hosted by Lt. Gen. Allen Peck, Air University commander, the event recognized eight sponsors for their service to AGA by presenting plaques to the sponsors for the number of AU classes in which they have sponsored IOs.
The plaque presentations included three sponsors receiving five-class plaques; one sponsor receiving a ten-class plaque, two sponsors receiving 20-class plaques; and one sponsor each receiving an award for 30 and 45 classes. General Peck also recognized and thanked all ambassadors participating, including first-time ambassadors.
Vicki and Gerry Borland are first-time Goodwill Ambassadors who hosted two international officers attending Squadron Officer School.
"We honestly did not know what to expect when they first got here," said Mrs. Borland. "However, after sponsoring them, I am glad we chose to participate in the ambassador program. Not only did we sponsor international officers, we helped create new friendships and positive memories, which leave lasting impressions on the officers as well as ourselves."
The Borland family hosted two international officers, first lieutenants Igor Savs
from Slovenia and Valmar Vingisaar from Estonia.
"When we first arrived, we were pleasantly surprised," said 1st Lt. Vingisaar. "To have a complete stranger greet you as friend is something we did not expect. The Borland family was very accommodating, and they helped us see how they live outside of military life in the United States."
First Lt. Savs said the Borlands also introduced them to American fast food, network
television, downtown Montgomery and American football while they were here.
"We would both like to thank the Borland family for being so friendly and helpful," said 1st Lt. Savs. "If the Ambassador program was not in place, I feel we would not be able to experience as much culture as we have while we were here. And that would be a shame, because I do not think we would have learned as much about American culture if the program did not exist."
Lt. Col. George Moraczewski, the International Officer School's director of international programs, said sponsors play an important role for international officers here. The purpose of the AGA program is to foster goodwill between the militaries of the U.S. and its allies.
"This program is a real gem," he said. "Whether the international officer comes here with his family or is single, they get to experience life in our area and what it has to offer instead of staying in their dorm the entire time. When they go back to their respective country, if they are asked the question, 'How was America?' we want them to share their positive experience of America and our culture."
The Alabama Goodwill Ambassadors program is always seeking additional sponsors. Those who might be interested in sponsoring should contact Maj. Monoleto Hosea at 953-7187, or e-mail him at email@example.com.