Cadets of 'Viking 9' walk the talk of service

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Vann Miller
  • Air Force Academy Public Affairs
Community involvement is not only good for shaping the holistic character of a cadet; it's highly encouraged through service projects designed by fellow cadets.

The cadets of "Viking Nine," through the coordination of 2nd Lt. Julian Gluck, participated in an outreach program geared to help a prominent member of the Colorado Springs community in October.

Located in Old Colorado City is a restaurant where the head chef does more than serve dishes of ethnic cuisine -- Chef Maya delivers lessons about her native culture to fellow Ethiopian children who've been recently adopted by local families.

Armed with a common cultural knowledge, Chef Maya devotes her Saturdays to educating nearly 20 children through the Ethiopian language of Amharic, providing cultural lessons and preparing cuisine.

Through an unfortunate set of circumstances in the Ethiopian children's lives, they have few or no family ties, and their only exposure to their culture is Chef Maya.

The cadets here were impressed by Chef Maya's contribution to the children, Gluck said. And once it was decided to help the children, there was a notable cooperation among the cadets.

"The cadets of Viking Nine always look forward to a chance to serve the community," said Cadet 1st Class Tony D'Errico of Cadet Squadron 9. "In this case the cadets had a chance to see how positively they are looked upon by the Springs community."

One weekend, the cadets took a moment to visit Chef Maya's classroom and met with the children. This gave the cadets and the foster children a chance to share and interact with one another. And, on October 20, cadets of Squadron 9 helped coordinate a picnic thrown in honor of Chef Maya and "her children."

The picnic gave the children a chance to participate in games, play soccer, tour the Academy grounds and even ride a horse barrowed from the equestrian team.

"Our goal for putting on this service project was to have the children see that cadets and the Air Force Academy care about the community and that we are just as dedicated to the people of Colorado Springs as we are to any mission," Gluck said.

(Cadet 1st Class Janie Gray contributed to this report.)