by Sgt. Rodney Foliente
4th Infantry Division
CAMP ECHO, Iraq (March 9, 2009) — Some of Diwaniya’s brightest female students happily participated in their new school’s opening, Feb. 26. The Irshad Secondary School for Girls, which enrolls some of the brightest teen girls in the city, was built by the Army Corps of Engineers working with the local government, contractors and laborers.
“With my partners, the Iraqi engineers, and with diligent effort, we were able to provide for you this beautiful school,” said Lt. Col. Dwight Davies, with the Corps of Engineers. “It is a great joy and privilege to provide an opportunity for such gifted young ladies to learn and evolve and support the future of Iraq.”The students of this school are among the top 20 percent of young female students from within and around the city.“We are happy for this school. It is very nice,” said a young student in English. She then showed off and said it in French and Arabic.
“Our old school was too small and not ours. We borrowed it, shared it with others,” she said, describing the crowded situations and sometimes being unable to have a full day of school.
The size of the school provides a better environment for teaching these girls, said Shuhad, an English-speaking teacher.“I have girls of my own,” she said, explaining why she wanted to teach young girls. Shuhad said she enjoys teaching and is happy for the new school. “I can participate in helping small girls in building their personalities and to be good people and good members of society to build the future of Iraq,” said Shuhad.
“I have three kids, so for me it’s pretty inspiring and pleasant to see [students] with so much energy and enthusiasm. I was so impressed,” said Mike Klecheski, Provincial Reconstruction Team leader for Diwaniya province.
“This country is making a lot of progress and to the extent that we can be partners in this progress is wonderful,” said Klecheski. He stressed the importance of the partnership with the Government of Iraq. “We work very closely with them,” he said. “Construction of a school like this is really a partnership, in every sense of the word.”He said efforts such as the opening of the school help[s] strengthen the bond between the two countries and develops a greater working relationship to benefit the sovereignty of Iraq.
“Not only are we dealing with Iraqis, but we’re dealing with the future generation of leaders and elites,” said Klecheski. “It was a great day and a lot of fun.” Klecheski continued. “It’s days like this that really make this a fantastic job because you really feel like you’re directly contributing. This is a culmination of a lot of work and it’s nice to be able to celebrate that. We are so happy that Iraq is making such great progress.”