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Ambassadors honored during annual IOS event

Maxwell AFB

Maj. General Michael Rothstein, Air University commander and president, gives a speech during the Alabama Goodwill Ambassadors appreciation night Jan. 18, 2018, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. The Goodwill Ambassadors are community volunteers who host and provide support to international students attending the International Officer School. (U.S. Air Force photo/Melanie Rodgers Cox)

Maxwell AFB

Maj. Gen Michael Rothstein, Air University commander and president, presents Vicki Dendis, winner of the 2017 International Student Support award with her trophy Jan. 18, 2018, at the Maxwell Club on Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Dendis was joined by her husband, Jim Dendis, as she was awarded for her service in supporting international officers and their families while stationed here at Maxwell. (U.S. Air Force photo/Melanie Rodgers Cox)

Maxwell AFB

Hats belonging to international officers line a table during the annual Alabama Goodwill Appreciation night, Jan. 18, 2018, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. The ceremony is held in honor of the sponsors who host international students attending Air University’s International Officer School. (U.S. Air Force photo/Melanie Rodgers Cox)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

The International Officer School’s annual Alabama Goodwill Ambassador Appreciation Night was held Thursday at the Maxwell Club.

The event offered an opportunity to recognize the outstanding performance of community members who volunteer as Alabama Goodwill Ambassadors for international officers attending both Air University and the International Officer School.

The ambassadors are responsible for hosting and taking care of the international students attending school at Maxwell AFB and their families.

Coming to the U.S. from France and staying with a host family makes the experience way different, said Laure Pappalardo, spouse of an International Officer School student currently at Maxwell.

Pappalardo talked about how having sponsors was something that she and her family really appreciated because being in a foreign country, the system is very different. The sponsors helped with the transition by assisting with introducing their children to the American school system and reducing the initial “culture shock.”

“One thing I really enjoy is to hear the families say that of all the places they have visited in the U.S., Montgomery is their favorite place,” said Roosevelt Maryland, an Alabama Goodwill Ambassador. “After hearing that, I think I can say that we have done our job because they now consider this to be a second home.”

Throughout the evening a number of ambassadors were recognized for outstanding performance and were presented awards.

One of the highlights from the evening was the presentation of the International Student Support Award. This award is given to an ambassador for their outstanding support to the international education mission, the International Officer School and the international military students and their families.

Mrs. Vicki Dendis was the winner of this year’s International Student Support Award for her numerous contributions to the international families and has been invaluable to Air University’s dependent programs.

“The opportunity to love and support international families has been the most amazing thing ever,” said Dendis.

She said she first got involved with the AGA program when she moved back to Maxwell and began leading the weekly international dance group, which is attended by a number of international spouses.

Vicki has dedicated more than 2,000 hours to planning and executing the International Family Orientation program and overseeing the spouses’ special activity groups. Vicki and her team also developed an 82-page U.S. handbook for families, ensuring that students and families were equipped with vital information to ease their transition to Montgomery.

Her efforts have fostered important relationships and helped establish enduring U.S. partnerships.

More information on the Alabama Goodwill Ambassador program and how to become a sponsor can be found at http://www.airuniversity.af.mil/IOS/AGA.aspx, or by contacting the International Officer School at au.ios.aga@us.af.mil.