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MOTIVATED AIRMEN NEEDED: New Multicultural Committee to foster growth through understanding, education

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Team Andersen Airmen have a chance to get involved in monthly special event planning through a new Multicultural Committee here.

The first committee meeting will be held April 27, at 2 p.m., at the Top of the Rock. Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Torres, Andersen Military Equal Opportunity noncommissioned officer in charge, said the success of the committee rests on participation.

"Committee members are given the space for creative thinking, the platform to showcase their talents, the ability to network with people they may have never come into contact with, the chance to enhance leadership abilities and the opportunity to educate themselves and others," Sergeant Torres said. "When you put all that experience, motivation and creativity in one room, the possibilities are limitless."

The catalyst for the committee came from Team Andersen Airmen: an idea from a team, for a team. According to Chief Master Sgt. Margarita Overton, 36th Wing Command Chief, the desire to get involved is shared by many at Andersen.

"I've had several people ask me why Andersen doesn't have any programs to commemorate national observances such as Martin Luther King's birthday, Women's History Month or Hispanic Heritage Month. I realized people wanted to have these types of programs and 'this is the way it's always been done,' was simply not the right answer," Chief Overton said. "When I posed the question to Tech. Sgt. Lawley and Staff Sgt. Torres from the Equal Opportunity office, they came up with the concept. I presented it during a meeting with executives from our professional organization committees and they made it happen!"

During the first meeting next week, committee leaders will be appointed and planning for the upcoming months will begin.

"We will measure the effectiveness of this group by the feedback we receive and the relationships built," Sergeant Torres said. "If attendees of a special observance event do nothing more than discuss the event and what they have learned, then the committee has done its job; they have planted a seed for growth and understanding."

Chief Overton expects great things from the committee, but just the time to gather and learn will be a great step in the right direction.

"Cultural understanding strengthens the total team. As Airman, and members of the DOD, we have an opportunity to serve anywhere at any time," she said. "Our Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Schwartz, encourages us to resolve to find more ways to nurture our military-to military connections and strengthen our strategic relationships through deeper appreciation of language and culture. It takes individual effort, yet this effort leads to a collective outcome of a more closely-connected, international community."

The events planned by the committee will benefit Team Andersen and families alike. The effects of which will last long after they leave Guam.

"As professional Airmen, we work alongside team mates who come from various backgrounds, ethnicities and nationalities," the Chief continued. "By learning more about our team mates, we can learn about our differences, understand each other and ultimately embrace those differences."

"Our families serve right along with us. By learning more about cultures, they can adapt to the various assignments they will have to attend with their loved one," she said.
By getting the most Airmen involved, Sergeant Torres hopes to share what she says is an extremely rewarding opportunity with all of Team Andersen.

"Even if you don't fully understand what the committee does or don't feel like you will fit in, give it a chance," she said. "Trust me you will have fun. Come see for yourself!"

To be a member of the Multicultural Committee, join the meeting at 2 p.m., April 27, at the Top of the Rock. For more information or to get involved, contact Staff Sgt. Torres at 366-5111.
 

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