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DLIELC international students receive generosity, support during COVID-19

By Annette Janetzke | Defense Language Institute English Language Center Public Affairs | June 16, 2020

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —

When Dan Vega, American Members of International Goodwill to Others, or AMIGO, program manager sent out a notice to all AMIGO sponsors for help with providing masks for international students at the Defense Language Institute English Language Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, he received several generous responses to help. 

Master Sgt. Jeanett Vielman said her motivation to help with the homemade masks was, “my love and appreciation for DLI and its mission.  I wanted to make something special for the students to show them how special they are and how happy I am to have them here in San Antonio.” 

And even though she’s on duty 24/7, Vielman makes time in the evenings after leaving work and continues to sew masks on the weekends. 

“I’m so happy I can do something for DLI students,” She said. “Their journey here in San Antonio is affected at the moment due to this virus, but love and hospitality from us can have a positive impact.”

AMIGO sponsor Daisy Whisenant saw the need, started searching various avenues, and found a group of craft ladies who donated one mask to low-income schools for every one purchased.  She decided to purchase $150 worth of masks for the first run since it was for an opportunity to assist our students.  Now all the additional masks she’s provided are donated.  Most are from a doctor’s wife, who likes to sew.

“I miss our dinner party celebrations of the students’ birthdays and graduations immensely during this time of limitations on gatherings, Whisenant said. “They’re so far from home, and I want them to know we care and to know they have friends in the United States. When Dan sent out a request for facemasks, I felt the masks would allow more opportunity for the DLI students to enjoy the company of others during this period.

“I found it fun visiting with DLI students,” Whisenant said after she met some students while at DLI delivering masks on one of her two visits. “I’m so happy to be of help to these precious guests from all over the world, to let them practice their English and enjoy American friendship.” 

Another AMIGO Sponsor, Alice Vida, also heard the call and stepped up to provide masks for the DLI students.  She is a volunteer with a charity called Threads of Love, a group of volunteers who make items for premature infants in intensive care.  

After the sewing headquarters were closed to abide with the stay-at-home request, the volunteers were asked to make cover masks for the nurses and doctors for the hospitals they supply with TOL items.  Her church ladies decided to sew the masks at home.

“We continue to do this but we are now sewing masks for policemen, firemen, and EMS,” Vida said. “So we went from sewing masks with ties to sewing masks with elastic.

“I had fabric pieces that I washed and cut in rectangles. This is the fabric used for the 40 masks I made for DLI,” she said. “I was happy to provide the masks for students to allow them to have mobility around the base. Since I had recent experience making masks, I knew I could make some masks while I was in place at home.”

DLIELC has received 160 homemade donated masks from AMIGO sponsors.