CULP trip – 2016 – Rwanda – Cadet Sadler

When I heard Cadet Sadler was going to Rwanda the first thing that came to mind was the Rwandan genocide and we are sending a young Cadet who just finished her freshman year to “that” African country. Needless to say I was very interested to see what she had to say about her adventure, and she didn’t disappoint.

Here is what she says her mission was:

My main mission was to improve relations with the Rwandans and help the Rwandan cadets improve their conversational skills. In addition to being implanted into a platoon at the Rwandan Military Academy, my team also helped paint classrooms for an underfunded primary school. Lastly, we went on a variety of cultural field trips in order to fully understand the country and it’s unique history.

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Here are her impressions:

The Lessons of the Rwandan People

June 22nd the day that changed my life forever. I have never been out of the country before and now I was being thrown head first into not only a culture very different from ours but more importantly I was being thrown way out of my comfort zone. The main thing I remember that helped get me through the first Rwandan drill and ceremony practice was all of the smiling faces.

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In among the hitting, pushing, and yelling these random new people took me in as one of their own. In the beginning the cadets would correct me and help me understand what was going on at their own expenses. The cadets would be hit or made to do push-ups because they were not in position due to the fact that they were guiding me. The harsh way the cadre hit, punched, shoved and yelled at the cadets is a part of their culture.

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My buddy, buddy Erica told me this was normal, they grew up with physical punishments. These actions were frightening at first but the more I thought about it I understood the background behind their use. In order to command a platoon one needs to be strict and strive for perfection. Another aspect that was brought into perspective due to spending so much time with the Rwandan cadets is to always appreciate the little things. Even thou one can’t change events you can change your attitude. The cadets always had a way to make even the worst situation better with smiles on their faces.

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One of my fellow cadets and friends enjoying the Army presents I gave her.

During the early morning ruck march I got to talk to another girl in my platoon. I wasn’t really getting into the conversation because I didn’t get much sleep the night before. A few minutes later we are both laughing and joking. She had gotten even less sleep then I had and still managed to bring me out of a slump while walking miles upon miles all with a smile on her face. I will never forget that conversation. The strength to push through any obstacle is a big part of the culture. I think that is amazing because here in America people have gotten lazy and just take the easy way out or give up. In order to be a strong leader one needs to lead by example and when things get challenging be the person to pull your soldiers out of their slump. One positive action can act like a catalyst. The way Rwandans have made it their mission to forgive and grow after such an earth shattering event can’t even be explained by words. The strength and faith it takes for a person to forgive their families killer is unfathomable. The things I learned from this example the Rwandan people set is to be able to move on and have the strength to admit your mistakes and learn from them. This lesson is what I think is the most important thing a leader needs to know. Only a great leader can look back at their mistakes, learn from them, and move forward while trying to never making the same mistake again. This resilience and hindsight is essential for one to lead effectively.

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Every experience I had over in Rwanda has changed the way I think about everything I do. I will never forget the people I met over there for they have touched my heart and changed me in ways even I don’t know. I will forever remember this trip to Rwanda and more importantly I will remember the strength, selflessness, and smiles of my fellow cadets, Rwanda Military Academy Intake 06/16 B-Company Platoon 1.

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Group picture of my team and the Marines stationed at the Rwandan embassy after a group PT session

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I’ve got nothing to wear…the PT uniform explained

If you are a brand new Cadet in the Golden Knight Battalion we don’t expect much from you to start.  If you are showing up in the right place, at the right time, in the right uniform for Army ROTC training we are happy (at least to start).  Right place/right time are a function of your time management skills and your attention to detail. The right uniform requires a little steeper learning curve.

I had my Gold Bar recruiter, 2LT Yates spell out what the proper PT uniform is, so you will be looking good.  When in doubt check with your chain of command and you can always refer to the regulation AR 670-1 or CCR 670-1.

Hair Standard

Male haircuts will conform to certain standards. The hair on top of the head must be neatly groomed. The length and bulk of the hair may not be excessive or present a ragged, unkempt, or extreme appearance. The hair will not fall over the ears or eyebrows, or touch the collar, except for the closely cut hair at the back of the neck. Males will keep sideburns neatly trimmed. Sideburns may not be flared; the base of the sideburn will be a clean-shaven, horizontal line. Sideburns will not extend below the lowest part of the exterior ear opening. Males will keep their face clean-shaven when in uniform or in civilian clothes on duty. Mustaches are permitted. If mustaches are worn, they will be neatly trimmed, tapered, and tidy. Mustaches will not present a chopped off or bushy appearance, and no portion of the mustache will cover the upper lip line or extend sideways beyond a vertical line drawn upward from the corners of the mouth. Handlebar mustaches, goatees, and beards are not authorized.

Females will ensure their hair is neatly groomed, that the length and bulk of the hair are not excessive, and that the hair does not present a ragged, unkempt, or extreme appearance. Likewise, trendy styles that result in shaved portions of the scalp (other than the neckline) or designs cut into the hair are prohibited. Females can wear their hair up in a bun or down in a ponytail. Ponytails are allowed during PT sessions only.

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Shirt Standard

The PT shirt must be completely tucked into your PT shorts, no exceptions.

Shorts Standard

The PT shorts must sit at your waist line. Black or gray spandex worn underneath the PT shorts must be plain, with no logos, patterns, or obtrusive markings.

Sock Standard

Plain black or white socks that are calf-length or ankle-length with no logos are permitted in the PT uniform. Ankle length socks must cover the entire ankle bone.

Shoe Standard

Running shoes are the only type of shoes authorized in the PT uniform. All colors of commercial running shoes are authorized.

NOTE: Taking care of your feet is a crucial part of being in the Army and physical training in general. Professionals recommend buying new running shoes every five to six months or 300 to 500 miles from the first wear. If the tires on your car are bald you replace them right away, therefore if you have smoothed out the tread on your running shoes it’s time to get a new pair. Listening to your body will also indicate when it’s time for new running shoes. If you have sore arches, knee pain, shin pain, or other small annoyances after running then it’s more than likely time to replace your running shoes.

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Additional Items

  • Watch: A watch is part of every Army uniform. Your PT watch should be a dark color and of an athletic type
  • PT Belt: The reflective PT Belt is to be worn tighten down above the waist line
  • Pen & Paper: For note taking
  • Water Source: Your green Army issued canteen, labeled with your last name on a piece of 100mph tape needs to be with you as well

These are the standards we adhere at Clarkson University.  Your program may differ, so make sure you understand the standards.

Right time…right place…right uniform!

 

CULP trip – 2016 – Guatemala – Cadet Aray Freites

The first of this year’s CULP trip reports is from Cadet Jeanmary Aray Freites, who attends St Lawrence University.  Her trip was truly a hands on experience since she was serving as an interpreter for a medical humanitarian mission, working side by side with Army Medical Officers.

Guatemala Through the Eyes of a Cadet:

When I was first accepted into CULP, I was ecstatic for my humanitarian deployment to a Spanish speaking country. I was certainly excited to use my Spanish to benefit others and to dip my feet into humanitarian work. I was not, however, anticipating the rest of the trip to include a visit to the only military academy in Guatemala, nor the Ministry of Defense. I was also not expecting to be completely emerged into their society and after a few days, appreciate and understand their culture and their way of life. Although our mission was to interpret for the medical staff at Beyond the Horizon, I am able to reflect on the trip and benefit from the experiences outside of the MED-RETE.

Although I understood that San Marcos, the location of our mission, was a poverty stricken area, I did not anticipate the degree to which the village needed us and US intervention. When first arriving in the early morning, we were overwhelmed with the heat, the trash, the amount of underfed parents and kids, and the living conditions just outside our small clinic. As the gates opened, we saw each patient and carefully addressed their needs and concerns. However, the doctors and cadets all came to the realization that some people had traveled hours and had been standing in line for most of the day. Although we sat sweating in a gym-like building with a fan beating behind our backs for 8.5 hours a day, we will never understand nor be able to empathize with those who had waited for the USA to come and provide them with the medical care their country was too impoverished to provide. As we tended to patients with illnesses like STDs, interpreted for patients needing teeth removals and parents with children who needed check-ups, cadets saw and experienced what it was like to truly help someone first hand and also give hope to those who felt like there was none. Having the opportunity to interpret for the doctors and get to know the patients opened my eyes to my privilege as an American and also the impact the USA has in Central America.

Once we ended our rotation at the MED-RETE, we were afforded the opportunity to travel around Guatemala and experience their history through various excursions. One of the many excursions included the overnight stay at the only Escuela Politecnica in Guatemala. We were able to go to class with the Guatemalan cadets and learn more about their officer training program and military. We shadowed them and adopted their customs and courtesies, giving us the opportunity to not only see a different military learning environment but to also see the type of officers and the curriculum other countries have set forth for their future leaders. The cadets at the Escuela Politecnica gave us tours and during the breaks, we exchanged stories and experiences knowing that one day, we may cross paths again. The complete submersion gave cadets, including myself, the opportunity to reflect on the freedoms we are given in the Army ROTC to pursue education and extra-curricular activities as well as a sense of appreciation for programs like CULP. After visiting the school, we headed to the Ministry of Defense where we learned more about their military operations, their budget, their battalions, and their version of Special Operations called Kaibil. During this part of our trip, we were treated like ambassadors and greeted with food and music. The respect that we were given as cadets will be something I will never forget; it spoke of their respect towards the USA as well as our influence in Central America.

As I finish my remaining 2 years in college, I will carry the experiences ROTC has afforded me through this Cultural Understanding Language Program. Visiting Guatemala has advanced my Spanish speaking and interpreting skills as well as given me countless opportunities to become the leader I want to be. Lastly, it has given me a deep sense of appreciation to be an American and a future Army Officer. My CULP trip to Guatemala as a medical interpreter has fueled my existing interest in humanitarian efforts and given me the opportunity to make a difference while still pursuing an education and developing my leadership abilities.

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Antigua: During one of our excursions we visited the ancient city of Antigua which is surrounded by 3 volcanoes and considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Throughout the day we learned more about the architecture surrounding the city, some of the religious sites and finally, about Antigua’s history and colonization.

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Cadets: The excursion to the Escuela Politecnica gave us the opportunity to meet some wonderful and dedicated cadets also training to become officers. During our time there, we were able to attend some of their classes and get a taste of what it would be like to be a future officer in the Guatemalan Army, Navy or Air Force.

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OB/GYN: As a medical interpret, I would work alongside Major Martin as she spoke to the patients. However, since they did not speak English and Major Martin did not speak Spanish, I would translate to ensure that the doctor understood the patients symptoms in order to give the correct diagnosis and treatment. Essentially, I was the channel of communication between the patient and the doctor.

Pharmacy

Pharmacy: For one of the rotations, I had to translate for the pharmacists and re-write prescriptions and instructions in Spanish for the patients. Typically, we would write around 1,200 prescriptions a day.

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OB/GYN Team: Major Martin, Nurse Francis and myself were in charge of the OB/GYN section. We saw hundreds of patients a day during our rotation.

The opportunities these CULP trips offer to these Cadets never cease to amaze.

 

Another point of view

One of my “fishing holes”, where I go to help interested students and find possible recruits is the Service Academy Forums.  There is a sub-forum on the site just for ROTC, and there is a ton of information and interesting discussions about the process.  The other day one of the regular posters, Dckc88, posted on a thread about listing colleges on the application. I thought the post was dead on, and echoed a lot of the information I espouse. Thought I’d share that information with my readers on the blog.

 Have her start the application and it will answer a lot of your questions to read through it, it just opened up. There is no rush to finish it. The first board meets in October giving her plenty of time to investigate, work on it over time, and change her mind about things as many times as she needs to, to get it right.

The only thing she cannot change once she starts it is the “survey”. It is a type of personality test to see if she is a fit as an Army officer and tries to predict if she will be career service (I read the study prepared by the Army when they instituted the test). It is worth a lot of points, so she wants to not rush through that, take it when she is in a good state of mind and has time to start and finish it, because once you start, that is her one opportunity!

When she selects a major on the application, then the schools that allow that major will be visible in the drop down box. For example if she selects nursing (using that example because I have lived it), then when she selects a specific state, only the schools that allow a cadet to study nursing with an ROTC scholarship will show up in the drop down box (she should also verify with the ROO after she contacts them). My daughter actually started her application early too, saw what schools were eligible in the states she was interested in, contacted those ROO’s (Recruiting Operations Officers) and even visited schools before she submitted her application with her school choices. She listed 4 (7 are allowed). Have her go into the school selection part of her application, put in different majors and just see what schools are eligible. After she identifies a few, she can even look at the school’s websites and sometimes be able to tell if the school is a host school (where the battalion is located), a satellite school (affiliated with a host school but many times have their own PT and military science classes on campus), or an affiliate school (typically has to do MS classes and PT somewhere else). If that school is not a host school, then contacting the ROO at the host school is going to be the easiest way to get her questions answered. My daughter had zero response from non-host school staff, contacting the ROO at the host school is what I wish we knew about earlier! My daughter also chose all but one school that she absolutely knew she would get into and get academic money for without a national scholarship, so she could show up in the fall and start ROTC and then compete for a campus based as a plan B without a scholarship. Her only stretch school was the one required school to be located in our state. She was iffy as to whether she would get in (initially wait listed, then accepted later in the spring) After she received the national scholarship, she decided on attending her stretch school. It was also a stretch school for ROTC because she had been told that it was competitive for nursing ROTC, only 3 slots at that school and direct entry nursing as a freshman meant it is a popular choice. My point in telling this story is to illustrate what has been said before, getting a scholarship does not guarantee getting into a school. So picking realistic choices both for academics and to be competitive for a ROTC slot is crucial.

It is all very overwhelming, confusing, and a learn as you go process. There are many parents here, and students that have recently gone through the process. Keep posting, asking questions, and have your daughter check out the site too. Once you have 10 posts (respond to us on this thread to get your posts built up, they can be a word or two, they don’t need to be detailed), then you can send any of us a personal message. I have found every parent that I have reached out to with specific questions because they had specific experiences I was interested in all very helpful!

My general advice is (and I give it often)

1. Don’t be afraid to have her email Cadet Command for all things related to her application. Including but not limited to, you sent something in but it isn’t showing up in her portal or is not approved yet, showing disqualified, asking for something and you don’t know what it is, etc. Just email them, they are helpful and quick to respond.

2. Once she identifies a few schools and makes contacts with the ROO there, encourage her to ask them questions to. About her essay for example, or questions about what majors she can take, or can she switch, etc.?

3. If at all possible visit ROTC units, she (and you) will learn SO much at each visit. And she will gain some great contacts and a ROO or two as an ally in the process.

When in doubt, you can look here, but really need to ask the sources that are really in the process, the schools and Cadet Command are there to help, use them. Other than Clarksonarmy (Clarkson University ROO) and BAMA ROTC (Alabama ROO), and a few others, we are just parents and students!

The takeaways I got from the post are the things I have written about before:

The application is helpful, and starting it will answer a lot of your questions

Establish that dialogue with the ROO

Come see us. A campus visit is going to go a long way to helping you chose

Hope this helps…thanks to Dckc88 for the great post!

Are you a regular visitor to the Service Academy Forum?

 

It’s been too long. An update from my foxhole

As another school year starts and another Army ROTC scholarship process gets into full swing I just wanted to share a few random thoughts about the view from my foxhole.

My Foxhole

For those of you unfamiliar with the Golden Knight Battalion it is a Battalion made up of 4 schools, all within a 20 minute drive.  We don’t have the partner/crosstown challenges other Battalions have.  We are also 4 relatively small schools.  Two are public (SUNY ) and two are private.  The host is a very supportive University.  Clarkson is known for it’s engineer programs and we are predominantly STEM.  We have excellent training opportunities on campus, in the local area, and at Fort Drum which is 1 hours away.

The scholarship process

The online scholarship process has gotten better over the recent years.  This blog was partly a product of the difficulty of navigating the process in the past.  Currently the site is very user friendly, easy to navigate, and very informative.  I make sure I apply every year, so that I know exactly what applicants are seeing.  in the past I had to ask my applicant what it looked like so that I could give advice.

application

This is what my application looks like this year.  I have circled the tab for additional information.  That tab will put me out of business if more people start clicking on it, since it contains the information that answers most of the questions I get routinely asked.  Hope no one clicks on it.

Changes in the Cadet Command world

The Army is getting smaller.  Budgets will continue to get tighter.  The way Cadet Command trains future Officers will be significantly different very soon.  All of those are things we can’t control.  That being said, I have more scholarship winners than I have had in quite a few years.  I continue to get my qualified Cadets on campus scholarship offers if they earn them.

The first scholarship board is meeting, the deadlines are approaching, and the world continues to turn.  Hope to find the time to blog more often and continue to help qualified applicants get those scholarships, contracts, and opportunities to serve their country as an Army Officer.

 

CULP trip 2014 – Hungary – Cadet Yates

Cadet Adam Yates spent three weeks of his Summer in Hungary.  Since my Grandparents on my Dad’s side were from Hungary, I was really looking forward to seeing what Cadet Yates had to report from his trip.  Sounds like he had a good visit.

“You’re going to a place that describes what you always are… Hungary” said SFC Truman. That initiated my excitement for going out of the US for the first time. A team of 10 cadets and myself traveled to Hungary to complete our mission of building foreign relationships with the Hungarian Defense Forces (HDF) by teaching them the English language. Just as the HDF General Bozo expressed to us at a welcoming lunch; English is a powerful tool for the Hungarian military since they are a part of NATO and the official NATO language is English. Within the first few days of our trip we toured the entire capital city of Budapest and saw all its beautiful architecture and scenery.

Hungarian Parliament building

Hungarian Parliament building

We were lucky enough to tour the Hungarian parliament building. The King’s crown is housed in the top of the building and guarded by two sword yielding HDF personnel.

The Hungarian Equestrian show

The Hungarian Equestrian show

We attended a Hungarian Equestrian show where the horses are trained like your domestic dog. Horse riding is a proud Hungarian tradition since they used horses during battle. The country has many statues depicting soldiers on horseback.

Hungarian EOD

Hungarian EOD

We spent a few days with the Hungarian EOD unit to find out that they are quite busy. They receive an average of 6 calls per day from civilians who have found some kind of EOD at their homes or in the country side. Mines, mortars, and grenades are ubiquitous in Hungary from being placed during WWII.

anti-aircraft weapon on one of the Hungarian warships

anti-aircraft weapon on one of the Hungarian warships

 

We also spent some time with the waterborne Hungarian forces.  We checked out an anti-aircraft weapon on one of the Hungarian warships which is also a mine sweeper. This weapons system has four 20 mm machine guns which all have 60 round drums. All 240 rounds fire off in an amazing 5 seconds. After checking out the ship we took a cruise on it down the Danube River.

Hungarian Orphanage

Hungarian Orphanage

One of our last days in country we visited an orphanage where children with chronic disabilities lived. We finger painted and played soccer with the children. We also helped out the establishment by moving hay bales. Just to put a smile on these guys and girls face was enough to make their day and my own.

Going into a different culture taught me to respect what others value in life. It was amazing to realize how much we take for granted in America and how the little things in life mean the most to others. I learned to appreciate and thank God for what I have at home. CULP was an eye opening experience that I’ll never forget.

A good report from Cadet Yates.

CULP trip 2014 – Romania – Cadet Mooney

It’s that time of the Summer when I start to get the trip reports from the CULP missions.  First to submit her report was Cadet Sally Mooney.  She will be entering her Junior year in the GKB and is studying at SUNY Potsdam and playing hockey there.  Here is her report from Romania.

I was a part of TM 10 Romania for CULP 2014. We had twelve cadets staying in Bucharest, Romania where we worked with the Jandarmeria. This is the special military police force that specializes in riot control and anti-terrorism. Our mission was to help them better understand english, in exchange for Jandarm training.

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During the week, we spent the day at their base. In the mornings we would do training, and in the afternoon we gave presentations on American culture and language. Some training events include: riot formations, breaching a building, combatives, rappelling, and rock climbing. One day, we went to the range and shot the MP5 and Sig Sauer P226. That was the team’s favorite day because none of us had shot these weapons before.

The Jandarms showing me a formation

The Jandarms showing me a formation

Many of the Jandarms were experts in MMA, and one was even the national champion for boxing. They taught us a lot of combatives and it was very beneficial and fulfilling for us. We also visited an orphanage while we were there. We went to the grocery store and bought a ton of food and toys to donate to the children of the orphanage. When we got there, the children were very excited and did not hesitate to dive into the toys we got them.

On the weekends, we traveled to do some sightseeing, and expand our cultural perspectives. The first weekend we went to Brasov where we saw Castle Peles, Castle Bran (Dracula’s Castle), a fortress, and a medieval city.

 

Tm 10 cadets outside of Castle Bran (Dracula’s Castle)

Tm 10 cadets outside of Castle Bran (Dracula’s Castle)

One of the Jandarms lived near there and we had the chance to see where he grew up. This was the most culturally shocking moment for me, because the Jandarm’s home was a very simple houses made of mud and set in a village. It was a self sufficient home. It was something that you see pictures of, but never actually witness. It was important for the team to get the chance to see that not every house is modernized and it was amazing to see. The next weekend we went to Mamaia on the Black Sea. We spent our time playing volleyball and relaxing on the beach. The weekends were a lot of fun because they offered a chance to fully see the country, as well as help us build relationships with our Romanian counterparts.

My Romanian counterpart (Cioby) and me wearing the riot control equipment

My Romanian counterpart (Cioby) and me wearing the riot control equipment

During my time there, I made friends with Romanians and fellow cadets. It was an experience of a lifetime, and I am very happy that I was able to go on this trip. I learned a lot about their culture and saw firsthand how much it is different from the lifestyle I have been fortunate to have.

As usual, the trip was life changing and opened the Cadet’s eyes to how other cultures live.  Thanks for bringing back a good story and lots of pictures Cadet Mooney.