By Emily Mulcahey
Cadets were jet lagged and jittery on Sunday after having just returned from a Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) mission in Bosnia. They were the first CULP team to arrive back stateside, and had nothing but great things to say about their time overseas.
CULP is a program designed to immerse the future military leaders of the United States in another nation’s culture. These cadets travelled to Bosnia on a mission to participate in the ongoing nation wide efforts to fight diversity, and to foster military-to-military contact.
“Our mission was ’boosting foreign military relations with the Bosnian armed forces,’” said Cadet Jordan Lawrence from Brockport University in New York, “at least, that’s what it said on paper. That was our main focus”
Boosting foreign relations was precisely what they did. The cadets realized that they were working side-by-side with the future leaders of Bosnia; building a relationship with them now may one day benefit not only them, but also the citizens of the United States.
“That relationship will be invaluable in the future,” commented Cadet Andrew Schrantz of the University of Maryland in Baltimore. “There may be missions in the future when we might see them, and we’ll already have that relationship built.”
Not only did the cadets work on building a relationship with the Bosnian soldiers, they also wanted to do what American soldiers do best: help.
The CULP cadets spent a significant amount of time building playgrounds in the local communities in Bosnia, but how can playgrounds help an entire nation?
“If we are to make Bosnia better, it’s not by starting with the older people,” said Captain Robert Perez, “they’re already convinced about what they ‘know.’ Playgrounds let us start with the children. They don’t care what nationality you are, or what religion you are, they just want to play together. They play together, they grow up together, and we have less diversity issues in the future.”
While still in college, these cadets have already begun to touch the lives of people who live on the other side of the world. CULP gave them this opportunity. Not only did this experience further their skills in this important career field, but it also allowed them to make a real difference.
“As a civilian, this would be an expensive vacation,” said Cadet Greg Polechronis of the University of New Hampshire. “This was more valuable than I could have imagined.”
This CULP experience was extremely important to the cadets, but it will also help protect the lives of the people they serve: the citizens of the United States of America.