On July 4th cadets from Paraguay team three visited the Academia Militar “MCAL. Francisco Solano Lopez.” While at the academy we ate lunch with the cadets and assisted with their English language program.
Similar to military academies in the United States, everyone comes together for formation before each meal and then eats together. While eating we had a chance to talk with the cadets. The conversations varied from training stories to life in Paraguay and the United States. Their winter vacation started that afternoon so cadets were in a joyful mood.
In order to be an officer in the Paraguayan military you must go through four years at the academy. All of their service branches attend the same academy but cadets wear the uniform of the branch of service they will enter. We also were given a brief introduction on how the officer corps of the Paraguayan military works. Following lunch, we taught a class of cadets basic conversational English. English is a crucial language for a Paraguayan soldier to learn if they ever plan on traveling on missions internationally. For example, Paraguay has sent soldiers to Haiti to work on disaster recovery efforts.
A language barrier made communication difficult at times, especially if the cadet has not yet learned to speak English, but we all share a military background so instantly we had a connection with each other. It was a very unique experience to meet someone born in another country that has a culture very different from your own, speaks a different language, and lives thousands of miles away. Yet they have the same goal as you, to serve their country as an officer in the military. In the future we will be able to utilize the connections we have made while on CULP with both foreign soldiers and members of the United States military. By experiencing different cultures now, we will be better prepared to handle diversity later in our careers.
On Monday we return to the Air Force base to continue teaching English lessons there. Our mission is tough at times, but it is very rewarding. Especially when you struggle through a concept and finally your student is able to understand, you both have a sense of pride in the accomplishment. We are all very grateful for this experience.