CULP trip – 2016 – Gabon – Cadet Broderick

Another interesting CULP report from Cadet Broderick who spent part of his Summer in Gabon.

This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Libreville, Gabon to conduct training with the Gabonese military. I was able to obtain this opportunity by applying for a spot in the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) program. Fortunately, I was picked to conduct my mission of teaching English and become more culturally diverse. Every weekday there were nine cadets conducting English classes for around 30 Gabonese military members from 0830 to 1130. We were assisted by a member of the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in how to go about instructing our lessons. Along with these regularly scheduled instructions there were times that the cadets were able to visit different schools with ages ranging from 4-24 years old collectively. Typically, the ages were on the younger side but a couple of the schools also had students that were older. The main purpose of visiting these schools was to give basic English instruction and experience the culture of the country, but a very important part of interacting with the students was to give them hope. Other activities that were conducted after our morning English lessons, besides the school visitations, were going to the American embassy and making presentations at a Department of State affiliated location called the American Corner.

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The American Corner was a place where people would go that were looking to come to the United States or wanting to know more about it and learn English. Cadets prepared two presentations each, one on their university and another on a US based interest item. After presenting information on our universities it was made apparent that the Gabonese only wanted to know about how to get to the United States. A smaller group of cadets was put together to compile this information and brief it to the Gabonese who were present at the American Corner. Information on visas, exams, different universities, and the process itself was given to the Gabonese in the hopes of them taking the initiative to try their hardest and come to the US. There were also two Saturdays at the American Corner where the cadets interacted with children and a member of the Department of State in order to teach English.

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Gabon Team 1 CULP American Corner

At the embassy, the cadets learned about the Department of State. Presentations were given by the Regional Security Officer, Defense Attaché, a nurse, a member of the Marine Security Guard, the Deputy Chief of Mission, and the Ambassador. These people gave us a wealth of knowledge and a great amount of insight into their world. We also ran a 5K with employees from the embassy for a fundraiser. The cadets were also invited to a lunch with members of the Young African Leaders Initiative from Gabon at the ambassador’s residence by the ambassador herself. There was also a barbecue that we attended held by employees from the embassy.

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Another very enlightening experience was being able to visit part of Central Accord 16 and meet other members of the United States Army that were in Gabon at the same time we were. BG Moore, Deputy Commanding General United States Army Africa/ Army, was able to sit down with us for about an hour at breakfast one morning and talk to us about his career and answer any questions we had. LTC LaMotte, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was able to show us around the Cooperative Security Location (CSL) in Libreville. At this location we were able to meet many different people and see exactly how a joint operation like this functions as well as talk to many 2LT’s about their careers so far and ask for any advice they may have for us.

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Traveling to Gabon to teach the military English, as well as being fully immersed in the culture of the country, was a very enlightening experience. Starting out there were some assumptions made but these were easily cleared up once in country. Getting to see the similarities and differences in the ways of life of the people of Gabon and comparing them to those of the United States provided for development which better prepared individuals to be suited in handling situations where a difference in culture can easily affect an outcome. There are a few major topics that differ between the United States and Gabon. Two of these are the concepts of time and relationships. The Gabonese do not feel any obligation to being prompt and punctual. An appointment can be made but not actually taken care until several hours later. The pace of life in Gabon is much slower as the Gabonese are looking to build relationships with others whenever they can. Laziness is another big factor that contributes to the effectiveness of the Gabonese. Many do not want to take the initiative but want the results that would come with the initiative. The most interesting part of this laziness is that many Gabonese recognize the laziness in themselves and others. This is why places with little European influence run much slower, while places that have been influenced by Europe have somewhat of a faster pace. Exchanges of money are not seen as an item for money but rather as something being given and in return receiving help in the form of money. Bartering is an example of how this applies as no set standard is made because this provides a means for building up a relationship. Another peculiar aspect of the culture of Gabon is their opinion of other Africans and the French. They tend to dislike people from other African countries besides Gabon and like the French, trying to be increasingly French. Many citizens of Gabon are getting away from their roots and forgetting their mother tongues since they are learning languages like English and French. A large amount of people would like to come to the Unites States and study as well as improve their English. Overall the people of Gabon are not that different from the population of the United States.

The window to apply for next year’s CULP missions has just opened up and I am hoping we will have plenty more adventures to share next Summer.  Still waiting on a few more reports from this past Summer.

Airborne

Mark Rosenthal, GKB alumni, class of ’78 has shared his thoughts with me in the past, and a couple weeks ago (22 August to be exact) he contacted me again with some thoughts about history, tradition, and being Airborne.  As  a basic training XO I taught the history and tradition class to new soldiers. I can certainly relate to what he had to say. I value Army history and  tradition and think it is what makes being a soldier so special.  I have also worked  in the civilian world for a company (US Steel) with a proud history that made working in the mill special. Being part of something bigger than yourself has value.

40 years ago *this month* I was experiencing my first exposure to the “real Army” attending Jump School between my Sophomore and Junior years at Clarkson.

I returned to school with “the haircut” and shiny new jump wings.

Right now I am cruising at Flight Level 380 over Montana on my way home from a consulting gig.

Under the seat in front of me is my computer bag. Proudly displayed on it is the “AA” “Airborne” patch that I wore on my sleeve in 1980-82.

During my time on active duty, I wore a lot of patches on my left sleeve.
The Artillery School
2nd Infantry Division
82nd Airborne Division
XVIII Airborne Corps
3rd Armored Division
TRADOC

but it’s the 82nd patch that I display today. But had I not attended jump school at a Clarkson cadet, I likely would have taken a different path.

It’s not about “jumping out of airplanes.” (Key point: There are *no* “perfectly good airplanes” in the Air Force). Rather, it was / is about being a part of something bigger – a tradition that extends back to 1940, and to 1944. When I was in the division, our CG, MG Malloy pointed out that nobody says “Boy, I wish we were as good as the 4th Mech.”

In some previous email, I sent a photo of my wings under a Clarkson unit crest on a black background. Those pins are on my Clarkson Ranger beret. Those wings are the ones I got at graduation, and are engraved “Aug 27, 1976” on the back – the day I got them. I carried that beret in my cargo pocket on my first jump with the 82nd as well, because, well, I wanted to connect my Clarkson Ranger experience with that one.

So… “Congratulations” to any cadets who have pinned on new jump wings over the summer. My message is this – those three weeks can change your life in subtle ways you don’t realize. Those wings aren’t a merit badge. They are a tradition.

PS – Our pilot for the flight out of BWI was also waiting for the plane this afternoon. I noticed his tie tack was a small jump wings pin. I approached him and said I liked his tie tack, and pointed to the patch on my bag. He had attended jump school as an Air Force cadet in 1979. He went on to be a transport pilot, and now flies Airbus A320’s for Delta. He never went on jump status, yet all of these years later, THAT is what he wears as a tie tack. Pretty cool.

“All The Way!”

This Summer 9 Cadets completed Air Assault training and one Cadet attended Airborne school and earned jump wings.  Clarkson Army ROTC continues the tradition of Cadets taking on the challenges offered over the summer.

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

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.

Antigua

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.

Cadets

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.

OBGYN

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.

OB/GYN

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.

 

What can a ROO see?

As an applicant, sometimes this process must seem hard to understand.  Some applicants receive a ton of coaching and feedback and others seem to be in the dark, always wondering where they stand and what the next step is.  So to shine a light on the subject…All ROOs aren’t the same. Some are more tech savy and some less. Some are capable of doing querys and extracting lists from our system, and some aren’t. Some are willing to help and some are at schools where they can sit back and let the prospects come to them (I’m looking at you SMCs).

The one thing we do all have in common is our main tool. The system we use is called the Cadet Command Information Management Module

CCIMM

Here is what we can see and what we might do with it:

We have access to a screen called the high school applicant contact list. It gives us a name, mailing address, phone number, and status. There are 5 statuses an applicant can be in Disqualified, Ineligible, Interviewee, Offer, and Alt Offer. What a ROO could do with this list is extract all the applicants into a spreadsheet and do a mail merge. Unless they wanted to spam the whole list they could filter out the disqualified or maybe the ones who already have offers. I’m hoping there aren’t any ROOs who would try to poach someone who already has an offer.  If the school is a regional draw they might want to use the contact information for a certain state or group of states.  I personally take this list and filter it for New York.  I’ll then look at that list and see if I see local applicants, or applicants from the Fort Drum region.  Then I might look up their information and offer my help.

We also have a screen called the high school applicant list. This screen shows us everyone who has applied, has one of our schools, and is in at least interviewee status. To be in interviewee status you have to at least submit transcripts and SAT/ACT test grades. This is the list I rely on. Each name is linked to their application, so if I need to see more I just click on their name. I use this information to determine where Clarkson ranks, how competitive they will be, and the screen allows me to give some feedback on things like the essay or an applicants list of extra curricular activities.  I’ll also print this off for my PMS when he does an interview with an applicant.

I can also get my Brigade to run a query of all applicants with one of my schools on their list, but I had to know to ask for it. About a month ago I asked Cadet Command for access to the applicant records in the data base, so I could run my own querys.  They told me I couldn’t have access to to those records, but my Brigade could provide the list. This list allows me see the applicants still in ineligible or qualified status. This allows me to reach out to them and let them know what they are still missing or what they need to do to be competitive. This list and the applicant list can be what sets a helpful ROO apart from the ROO that just sits back and hopes for the best. It also sets the helpful ROO apart from the ROO who just spams 1200 applicants.

I wanted to share this information, so you all know that if ROOs are creative they can see alot. Just because you got an email from ECU or Wentworth or any other school doesn’t mean your chances just went up or down. You are still on the list, you still may be competitive, and still need to have a backup plan.

 

Reader mail – Where’s the white space

Nothing like being tossed a softball for a lazy blogger.

Got an email today from someone who has been visiting the blog.  Here’s what it said:

I wanted to clarify something because I think the application has changed since your post in 2012. “use all the white space”
Did it in fact change, or am I missing it on the application. I’m only seeing a personal statement. Is there any place to explain achievements like on the college common app?
In fact the application does change from year to year and unfortunately I don’t always go back and update my old blog posts. If you are reading some of my posts pay attention to when they were written. That being said, things don’t change that much, and most of the old advice is still valid.
So, here is what I wrote back.
Questions like these are why I apply for the scholarship every year….If you click on the Selection Status tab in the online application website and scroll all the way down you will see the “white space”.  It’s now called “Additional Remarks”, but it’s essentially the old “Additional SAL Achievements” field.

In the system we use to see an application (CCIMM) that “Additional Remarks” field is displayed as “Additional SAL Achievements”.  I’m seeing plenty of applicants who have found this box and have followed my advice.
I certainly appreciate the question and it gave me a reason to go back into the application and poke around a little bit.  I knew the “white space” was in there, just had to figure out where.  What I have found is that a lot of applicants don’t go all the way through the application and click on all the tabs and links.  There is a ton of information on the application website.  Based on many of the questions I see out there some folks aren’t looking at all of it, and it is not always easy to find. A perfect example is the “Additional Remarks” hidden all the way at the bottom of the last tab.