By Cadet Carlos R Moreno Almodovar
US Army ROTC University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras
The Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency Program’s purpose is to take cadets to a whole new environment and immerse them in a different culture. In my case we were to spend three weeks in Malawi and train with the Malawi Defense Force at the Malawi Armed Forces College or MAFCO.
The mission that Cadet Command gave us was to train the MDF in the Army’s Physical Readiness Training As we arrive in MAFCO we were told that each cadet would be assigned to one of the companies training recruits at that moment. From that moment on if the recruits were training, we were too.
From Monday to Friday, classes and physical training during the day, a run in the afternoon and at 0000hrs we had what they call “the morning run.” This “morning run” was part of their training and every recruit and cadet was to be present, we estimate that the run was a good five miles. The two battalions would stretch, using the PRT procedure with a cadet guiding them thru, and then it was time to run. Each company would set their own pace and sing their own songs, which once started they didn’t stop until reaching the ending point.
Although we were not always in charge of the PT sessions, their physical training instructors were always looking for feedback from us. The PTI were as happy as the recruits to have us there, all of them wanted to know as much as possible from us, both personal and professional. It was amazing how they kept asking questions, you could see the interest that they had and the satisfaction that they would get when they received an answer.
My company sergeant major one day just gave the floor to me; he just called me up and said to talk to the troops. As I talked about the differences that I had seen between their Army and ours, a little of the Army tradition and some American culture, the recruits started asking questions. I was up there for a good forty five minutes answering questions about history, cultures differences, weather, marriage in the U.S., leadership styles, the importance of teamwork and unit cohesion, how to resolve problems with your peers, the importance of being proud to be a soldier of your nation’s Army and almost everything about my personal life.
I believe that the MDF learned a lot from us, but I know that we were the ones that really gained the most from the trip. We had the opportunity to interact with so many soldiers, citizens, children and the people from the market who are a whole different story. For me it was a great experience just going there, but to have had the opportunity to learn from them, it’s priceless. I definitely encourage any cadet that has the chance to apply for CULP and prepare to have an amazing life experience.