By Pfc. Lisa Cope, 13th ESCFebruary 6, 2010
Staff Sgt. Imelda P. Quiroz said delivering school supplies to Ibn Rushed School, a rural school outside of Nasariyah, Iraq, reminded her of the visits humanitarians made to her school when she was a child in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico.
Quiroz, the supply accounting noncommissioned officer with the 36th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) moved to Arlington, Texas, and joined the Army, but she said the Jan. 13 trip to the Iraqi school brought back 20-year-old memories.
She said she always looks forward to the visits and believes they are important to public relations in Iraq.
Soldiers with the 36th Sust. Bde., out of Temple, Texas, delivered the supplies to the teachers and students at Ibn Rushed School to further develop the Iraqi civil capacity and help educate the next generation of Iraq's leaders.
"I think things like this make a difference in other countries, because I came from another country and I remember always going to a Bible school in the summer," said Quiroz. "I didn't speak English, so I remember how a whole bunch of ... people used to come, and I looked forward to them coming every summer. That always stayed in my head."
The trip to Ibn Rushed School was the first mission for Lt. Col. Peter M. Bistransin as the civil military officer with the 36th Sust. Bde.
Bistransin, an Austin, Texas, native, said the students reacted well to the visit.
"First, we went in and [the teachers] had the kids stand up when I walked in, and they had them sit down," he said. "[The kids] are very well disciplined. As soon as the teacher let them talk and stuff, they were very friendly and ... they were really appreciative of us coming by."
He said he believes it is important to have the Soldiers spend time with Iraqi students.
"I did not want to rush in, drop off the supplies and rush out," said Bistransin.
Bistransin said chalk was the most useful donation to the school because most of the instruction is done on the blackboard to help the children who do not have books.
"I did not see all the kids having a book," said Bistransin. "I saw that the teacher had a book, and they used [the blackboard a lot]. With a lack of books, chalk would probably be a very key element in getting the subject matter to the students."
Quiroz said she knows the kids will remember this visits from the 36th Sust. Bde. just as she remembers the Bible school from her childhood.
"For me, it has been over 20 years ago and I still remember, so I think they will remember this," said Quiroz.
Quiroz said her trip taught her why the volunteers in Mexico were so willing to help her when she was a child.
"Now I understand why they kept doing it," said Quiroz. "It actually does feel really good to go out there. So, whenever they do stuff like that I always try to volunteer, because I know it made a difference in my life."