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Sailors Teach English to Bahraini Students

By Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Joel Miller
Special to American Forces Press Service

MANAMA, Bahrain, July 23, 2009 – Twelve sailors assigned to Commander, Task Force 53, and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command volunteered yesterday to help disabled teenagers and their families here learn English.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Lt. Ryan Wodele teaches English to a local student as part of a community relations project sponsored by the Bahrain Disabled Sports Federation and the U.S. Embassy in Manama, Bahrain, July 22, 2009. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Carolyn Cerminara

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Every Monday and Wednesday, sailors teach English to Bahraini students to help them prepare for State Department exchange programs in the United States. The lessons are part of a recurring community relations project sponsored by the Bahrain Disabled Sports Federation.

"Sailors come here to teach English and provide an important tool to communicate in the world," said Jassim Mohammed Seyadi, chairman of the Bahrain Association for Parents and Friends of Disableds. "This will certainly help improve the lives of everyone involved."

During the tutoring, sailors spent time working with students on vocabulary, reading and writing with a mix of activities and games.

"It's great to see the kids' interest in the United States and in learning English," said Navy Lt. Ryan Wodele, an officer assigned to Combined Task Force 53 who volunteers with the project. "They seem to enjoy learning new vocabulary and associating words in English with things they have heard about the U.S."

The students are improving their English-speaking skills before participating in a bilateral exchange program scheduled for next year between Bahrain and a school in Eugene, Ore.

"Today, the kids have so much confidence, they will stand up on stage and speak English," said Essam Kamal, the federation’s managing director and organizer of the exchange program. "A few months ago, they were too shy and unsure."

The task force’s involvement with the federation and the youth exchange participants is one of five community relations projects Naval Forces Central Command sponsors in Bahrain.

"Over the past year, we have increased from five to 13 commands actively participating in [community relations] efforts, with CTF 53 leading the pack," said Navy Lt. Ron Nordan, who manages community relations projects for Naval Forces Central Command. "This gives the U.S. Navy opportunities to significantly contribute to the communities in which we live."

The federation organizes participation in regional and international disabled athletic competitions and offers a variety of sports for the disabled, including athletics, swimming, table tennis, wheelchair basketball, bowling, power lifting and football.

"Seeing these people volunteer their time is a really positive thing for our participants," said Wasnaa Al Aradi, the federation's head of Disability Youth Challengers Youth Committee. "It helps us look forward, even more, to the next exchange in Oregon."

(Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Joel Miller serves with the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet public affairs office.)

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