Tennessee National Guard Participates in Bulgarian School Renovation

Brig. Gen. Donald Johnson, Assistant Adjutant Gen. (Air), Tennessee, greets Tennessee National Guard members at the grand re-opening of the Izvorche Kindergarten school in Kabile, Bulgaria, Aug. 24, 2016.  Tennessee National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from the 164th Civil Engineer Squadron, 118th Mission Support Group, 134th Air Refueling Wing, and the 194th Engineer Brigade deployed to nearby Novo Selo Training Area for thier annual training to participate in Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects such as the renovation of the school.  The projects build skills for the Airmen while helping to strengthen ties with Tennessee and Bulgaria through the State Partnership Program.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs)

Brig. Gen. Donald Johnson, Assistant Adjutant Gen. (Air), Tennessee, greets Tennessee National Guard members at the grand re-opening of the Izvorche Kindergarten school in Kabile, Bulgaria, Aug. 24, 2016. Tennessee National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from the 164th Civil Engineer Squadron, 118th Mission Support Group, 134th Air Refueling Wing, and the 194th Engineer Brigade deployed to nearby Novo Selo Training Area for thier annual training to participate in Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects such as the renovation of the school. The projects build skills for the Airmen while helping to strengthen ties with Tennessee and Bulgaria through the State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs)

Members of the Tennessee National Guard and the Bulgarian Army work together to renovate the playground at the Izvorche Kindergarten School Aug. 15, 2016.  Tennessee National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from the 164th Civil Engineer Squadron, 118th Mission Support Group, 134th Air Refueling Wing, and the 194th Engineer Brigade deployed to Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria for thier annual training to participate in Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects such as the renovation.  The projects build skills for the Airmen while helping to strengthen ties with Tennessee and Bulgaria through the State Partnership Program.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs)

Members of the Tennessee National Guard and the Bulgarian Army work together to renovate the playground at the Izvorche Kindergarten School Aug. 15, 2016. Tennessee National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from the 164th Civil Engineer Squadron, 118th Mission Support Group, 134th Air Refueling Wing, and the 194th Engineer Brigade deployed to Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria for thier annual training to participate in Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects such as the renovation. The projects build skills for the Airmen while helping to strengthen ties with Tennessee and Bulgaria through the State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs)

Airmen from the 164th Civil Engineer Squadron, Tennessee Air National Guard, repaint playground equipment at a Bulgarian elementary school Aug. 15, 2016, prior to the new school year.  Tennessee National Guard Soldiers and Airmen deployed to Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria to participate in Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects.  The projects help strengthen ties with Tennessee and Bulgaria through the State Partnership Program, while providing skills and labor to those in need.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs)

Airmen from the 164th Civil Engineer Squadron, Tennessee Air National Guard, repaint playground equipment at a Bulgarian elementary school Aug. 15, 2016, prior to the new school year. Tennessee National Guard Soldiers and Airmen deployed to Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria to participate in Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects. The projects help strengthen ties with Tennessee and Bulgaria through the State Partnership Program, while providing skills and labor to those in need. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs)

Brig. Gen. Donald Johnson, Assistant Adjutant Gen. (Air), Tennessee, greets Tennessee National Guard members at the grand re-opening of the Izvorche Kindergarten school in Kabile, Bulgaria, Aug. 24, 2016.  Tennessee National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from the 164th Civil Engineer Squadron, 118th Mission Support Group, 134th Air Refueling Wing, and the 194th Engineer Brigade deployed to nearby Novo Selo Training Area for thier annual training to participate in Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects such as the renovation of the school.  The projects build skills for the Airmen while helping to strengthen ties with Tennessee and Bulgaria through the State Partnership Program.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs)

Brig. Gen. Donald Johnson, Assistant Adjutant Gen. (Air), Tennessee, greets Tennessee National Guard members at the grand re-opening of the Izvorche Kindergarten school in Kabile, Bulgaria, Aug. 24, 2016. Tennessee National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from the 164th Civil Engineer Squadron, 118th Mission Support Group, 134th Air Refueling Wing, and the 194th Engineer Brigade deployed to nearby Novo Selo Training Area for thier annual training to participate in Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects such as the renovation of the school. The projects build skills for the Airmen while helping to strengthen ties with Tennessee and Bulgaria through the State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs)

Students sing traditional songs at the grand re-opening of the Izvorche Kindergarten school in Kabile, Bulgaria, Aug. 24, 2016.  Tennessee National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from the 164th Civil Engineer Squadron, 118th Mission Support Group, 134th Air Refueling Wing, and the 194th Engineer Brigade deployed to nearby Novo Selo Training Area for thier annual training to participate in Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects such as the renovation of the school.  The projects build skills for the Airmen while helping to strengthen ties with Tennessee and Bulgaria through the State Partnership Program.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs)

Students sing traditional songs at the grand re-opening of the Izvorche Kindergarten school in Kabile, Bulgaria, Aug. 24, 2016. Tennessee National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from the 164th Civil Engineer Squadron, 118th Mission Support Group, 134th Air Refueling Wing, and the 194th Engineer Brigade deployed to nearby Novo Selo Training Area for thier annual training to participate in Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects such as the renovation of the school. The projects build skills for the Airmen while helping to strengthen ties with Tennessee and Bulgaria through the State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs)

Brig. Gen. Donald Johnson, Assistant Adjutant Gen. (Air), Tennessee, dance with Bulgarian students at the grand re-opening of the Izvorche Kindergarten school in Kabile, Bulgaria, Aug. 24, 2016.  Tennessee National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from the 164th Civil Engineer Squadron, 118th Mission Support Group, 134th Air Refueling Wing, and the 194th Engineer Brigade deployed to nearby Novo Selo Training Area for thier annual training to participate in Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects such as the renovation of the school.  The projects build skills for the Airmen while helping to strengthen ties with Tennessee and Bulgaria through the State Partnership Program.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs)

Brig. Gen. Donald Johnson, Assistant Adjutant Gen. (Air), Tennessee, dance with Bulgarian students at the grand re-opening of the Izvorche Kindergarten school in Kabile, Bulgaria, Aug. 24, 2016. Tennessee National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from the 164th Civil Engineer Squadron, 118th Mission Support Group, 134th Air Refueling Wing, and the 194th Engineer Brigade deployed to nearby Novo Selo Training Area for thier annual training to participate in Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects such as the renovation of the school. The projects build skills for the Airmen while helping to strengthen ties with Tennessee and Bulgaria through the State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs)

Brig. Gen. Donald Johnson, Assistant Adjutant Gen. (Air), Tennessee, Mr. Georgi Georgiev (center), Mayor of the Tundzha Municipality, and Mr. Dimitar Ivanov, Yambol Regional Governor, cut the ribbon cutting at the grand re-opening of the Izvorche Kindergarten school in Kabile, Bulgaria, Aug. 24, 2016.  Tennessee National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from the 164th Civil Engineer Squadron, 118th Mission Support Group, 134th Air Refueling Wing, and the 194th Engineer Brigade deployed to nearby Novo Selo Training Area for thier annual training to participate in Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects such as the renovation of the school.  The projects build skills for the Airmen while helping to strengthen ties with Tennessee and Bulgaria through the State Partnership Program.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs)

Brig. Gen. Donald Johnson, Assistant Adjutant Gen. (Air), Tennessee, Mr. Georgi Georgiev (center), Mayor of the Tundzha Municipality, and Mr. Dimitar Ivanov, Yambol Regional Governor, cut the ribbon cutting at the grand re-opening of the Izvorche Kindergarten school in Kabile, Bulgaria, Aug. 24, 2016. Tennessee National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from the 164th Civil Engineer Squadron, 118th Mission Support Group, 134th Air Refueling Wing, and the 194th Engineer Brigade deployed to nearby Novo Selo Training Area for thier annual training to participate in Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects such as the renovation of the school. The projects build skills for the Airmen while helping to strengthen ties with Tennessee and Bulgaria through the State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs)

A plaque representing the partnership hangs on the wall permanently at the grand re-opening of the Izvorche Kindergarten school in Kabile, Bulgaria, Aug. 24, 2016.  Tennessee National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from the 164th Civil Engineer Squadron, 118th Mission Support Group, 134th Air Refueling Wing, and the 194th Engineer Brigade deployed to nearby Novo Selo Training Area for thier annual training to participate in Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects such as the renovation of the school.  The projects build skills for the Airmen while helping to strengthen ties with Tennessee and Bulgaria through the State Partnership Program.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs)

A plaque representing the partnership hangs on the wall permanently at the grand re-opening of the Izvorche Kindergarten school in Kabile, Bulgaria, Aug. 24, 2016. Tennessee National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from the 164th Civil Engineer Squadron, 118th Mission Support Group, 134th Air Refueling Wing, and the 194th Engineer Brigade deployed to nearby Novo Selo Training Area for thier annual training to participate in Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects such as the renovation of the school. The projects build skills for the Airmen while helping to strengthen ties with Tennessee and Bulgaria through the State Partnership Program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kendra M. Owenby, 134 ARW Public Affairs)

KABILE VILLAGE, TUNDZHA MUNICIPALITY, Bulgaria -- Airman from the 164th Airlift Wing, 118th Wing and 134th Air Refueling Wing, Tennessee Air National Guard and Soldiers from the 194th Engineer Brigade, Tennessee Army National Guard, participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Village of Kabile, Bulgaria Aug. 24, 2016. 
The ceremony was held to celebrate the "grand re-opening" of the Izvorche Kindergarten School.  Airmen, Soldiers and Bulgarian Soldiers helped to remodel the school and playground while on deployment to nearby Novo Selo Training Area for annual training. 
Several members of Tennessee National Guard Leadership were in attendance for the ceremony. 
Brig. Gen. Donald Johnson, Assistant Adjutant Gen. (Air) Tennessee and Brig. Gen. Tommy Baker, Assistant Adjutant Gen. (Army) Tennessee were present to celebrate the milestone and show support for Tennessee's State Partner Bulgaria.
Brig. Gen. Johnson commented at the beginning of the ceremony.
"Thank you for allowing us to be a part of this great event.  I know this took a lot of coordination on a lot of peoples' parts but we are grateful to be able to do our part for the future of the children of this great community of Kabile."
In attendance for the ceremony was the Mayor of Kabile Village, Mr. Georgi Dinev; the Mayor of the Tundzha Municipality, Mr. Georgi Georgiev; the Yambol Regional Governor, Mr. Dimitar Ivanov; Senior Defense Official, U.S. Embassy Sofia, Col. Jamie Crowhurst; Office of Defense Cooperation Chief, U.S. Embassy Sofia, Lt. Col. Jay Smith; the 164th Mission Support Group Commander, Col. Andy Trautman; and the State Partnership Program Director, Lt. Col. Michael Nave.  Local media outlets were also on hand to cover the event.
Ms. Milena Paskova, Kindergarten Director spoke with gratitude to the service members.
"My speech is going to be short.  I am going to say thank you to everyone who has been a part of this project and for everything that you have done in this municipality.  Again, Thank You!"
A traditional "copper pot" ritual was performed, where water was poured from a copper pot onto the threshold of the building to bring good luck. 
The children, dressed in traditional Bulgarian attire, performed songs and danced for the crowd and guests were invited to tour the Kindergarten.  A reception was held afterwards with food and drinks.
The Airmen, Soldiers, and Bulgarian Army Soldiers, spent three weeks renovating the school as part of a Humanitarian Civic Assistance project. 
Inside they installed new tile and laminate flooring, built walls and primed and painted them, installed new electrical and lighting, new plumbing and new toilets. 
Outside the Airmen and Soldiers cleared away brush and briars to reveal hidden playground equipment and park benches that had been overgrown for some time.  They cleaned, repaired and gave a fresh coat of paint to the equipment and benches and realigned paver stones to allow for a smoother playground surface for the children.
"It has been a real treat for me to get out of the office and work with our folks," says Chief Master Sgt. Shantel Bolton, 164th Civil Engineer Squadron.  "There has been a lot of hard work and sweat on this project, but it has all been worth it."
The project was made possible by Humanitarian Civic Assistance and the National Guard State Partnership Program, a program put in place to foster national stability within the NATO framework and enrich culture and language proficiency.  Tennessee and Bulgaria have been partners since the program was established in 1993.