CULP trip 2012 – Georgia – Cadet Macci

Taylor’s the tallest Cadet in the back row

Here is the second installment of the CULP adventures of the GKB.  Cadet Taylor Macci deployed to the Republic of Georgia this summer.  As someone who remembers when the Russians were the bad guys, I was looking forward to hearing about Taylor’s trip.  So here is what he had to report.

My name is Taylor Macci and I will be an MS3 in the Golden Knight Battalion this fall. This summer I was fortunate enough to travel to the Republic of Georgia for three weeks. On our trip we stayed in two of the countries main cities, the capitol of Tbilisi, and Batumi. Our mission was to teach English at an American sponsored library called the American Corners in Batumi. We interacted with forty Georgian children ranging from the age of 8 to 17.

Our trip began with 48 hours of travel and landing in Tbilisi. We remained in the city for three days to get acclimated and receive our briefings from the US embassy. From here we took a six-hour bus ride to the coastal city of Batumi. Batumi is a tourist town, which is on the Black Sea. The next day we met our students. The language barrier was large with the younger children, but most of the teenage Georgians are proficient in English. Most days were started with an English lesson mixed in with going to the park to play soccer. Also we were lucky enough to visit museums, a botanical garden, and a Roman fortress. Batumi has a wonderful boardwalk and park within walking distance of the library.  These were great places to take the kids during the day. In total we were with the kids for two and a half weeks.  Then we took the buses back to Tbilisi where we debriefed with the Embassy and took a day to prepare for the trip back to Fort Knox.

Overall the trip was an amazing experience. There were many memorable moments. The botanical gardens outside of Batumi had some of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen. On our second weekend in Batumi we took an excursion to Kutaisi. There we saw the Cathedral where King David the Builder was buried more than 800 years ago. In our final week with the kids we went to the Dolphinarium. This is a dolphin show, similar to something that would be put on at Sea World. The kids really enjoyed this, and it was fun to see them enjoying the show. I could go on all day about the trip, but it was a very valuable experience. I learned a lot from our OIC (officer in charge) and the ten cadets that I was with everyday. I created a relationship with each of them that will be useful in the future. But most of all I learned many things about myself on this trip.

Steps in Narikala Fortress

 

Still to come…Cadet O’Donnell rides a Camel, and Cadet Nelden reports from Peru.

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CULP trip 2012 – Tanzania – Cadet O’Connor

I’ve asked all of our CULP cadets to provide me with a synopsis of their CULP trips this year that I want to share with the GKB blog world.  The first article I got back was from Cadet Kevin O’Connor.  I had been seeing his facebook pictures of lions and zebras and wonderful African scenery, but I didn’t expect the story he provided.  An incredible narrative of what must have been a life changing experience.

Me atop of a Boabab tree I climbed overhanging an 80 ft cliff.

Most college students spend their summer hanging out with friends, making a little extra money, and relaxing after a hard school year. For some Army Cadets, there are opportunities to do some pretty incredible things. Some go to Airborne School, or Air Assault School, but I had the opportunity to go on CULP deployment. CULP (That’s Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency), is a program for Army Cadets to travel to a country to participate in a cultural exchange. This past summer I had the amazing privilege of traveling with 9 other ROTC Cadets and a Cadre member to the country of Tanzania to offer humanitarian aid to the local community.

We were placed at various schools, women’s empowerment groups, prison schools, and even working with kids that have HIV/AIDS.  Most of us worked at helping teachers at the local schools develop sustainable lesson plans, and show them some different perspectives on how to educate children. I was placed at a nursery school for children 3 to 7 years old. Although English is in their curriculum, the children understand very little. This allowed me to pick up a lot of the language. We were also able to take trips to Ngorongoro Crater for a wildlife safari, and Zanzibar for some incredible tours, both once in a lifetime opportunities. Tanzania is an incredibly beautiful country, and I am so humbled by the people who live there. I am so lucky just being an American, and I truly appreciate everything I have now.  My most memorable experience is probably the most poignant.  One of the brightest young children at the school I gave a lot of extra teaching.  I explained to him how important for his success learning his math and English is.  He stopped coming to school for two days.  I talked to a local family near our compound to find where this child lived.  I went to his home to speak with his parents.  The bright child with a promising future could not afford to go to school.  For the equivalent of around 50 dollars, I could guarantee his tuition for another year.  I told the parents to send him to school in the morning.  I paid for a year of his tuition.  At the end of my volunteer placement, the children gave me a farewell.  They lined up, and said either “goodbye from your brother” or “goodbye from your sister” depending on whether they were a boy or girl. Then came the young bright student. He walks up to me, and says “Goodbye from your student, Goodbye from your son”.  I have never felt so humbled.  Over all, this trip was entirely sobering and perspective changing.  I feel very blessed to have had this opportunity.  If given the chance I would do it again in a heartbeat and I strongly urge any incoming MSI and MSII to look into this great opportunity.

The Children of Eliroi Nursery School

What a great story.   I’m looking forward to getting similar reports from our other CULP trippers.  You can also read about Cadet Flynn’s adventurer in Costa Rica on the Army Strong Stories blog site.