These Buena Vista University ROTC students will be interning overseas this summer. From left are Deni Peters, Matt Gross, Corey Hannula, Nolan Sampson, Alex Seaman, Michael Thielen and Mason Nielsen.
Seven ROTC cadets at Buena Vista University will be spending three weeks in other countries this summer to learn about the cultures and military forces in those nations.
“These trips are part of the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) Program developed by the U.S. Department of Defense to have a force that has a better understanding of different cultures around the world,” says Capt. Jared Gledhill, assistant professor of military science and officer in charge of the ROTC program at BVU.
“Each trip has its own task and purpose. The military-focused trips are more about developing a better understanding of other militaries. Some of the others are more focused on supporting NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that are conducting humanitarian operations in different parts of the world. These trips truly expose students to the culture and customs of the host countries.”
The BVU students, all sophomores, and the countries they will be visiting are:
- Mason Nielsen, a criminal justice major from Central City – Vietnam
- Matt Gross, an education major from La Porte City – Cambodia
- Alex Seaman, a business major from Spencer – Cambodia
- Nolan Sampson, a business major from Cherokee – Korea
- Deni Peters, an education major from Lake Park -- Tanzania
- Michael Thielen, a business major from Storm Lake – Malawi
- Corey Hannula, an athletic training major from Woodberry, Minn. – Bosnia
The students, who were selected for the CULP program on basis of their grade point average, physical fitness and participation in the ROTC program, will start leaving after the end of the academic year. The program includes a week of readiness training and team building at Fort Knox and three weeks in the host country. In the host countries, the cadets will stay with either local families, or military personnel, depending on the purpose of the trip.
“This program will give our cadets more experiences to draw upon as they lead other soldiers, and help them understand soldiers from different backgrounds and have experience with people outside the United States,” says Gledhill. “Most people only see the combat side of the military but as a member of the military you need to be ready to respond to humanitarian crises around the world.”
Corey, who participated in the program in 2011 in Guatemala, says “The humanitarian mission was called Continuing Promise 2011. The mission was to provide healthcare to people who could not afford it in nine different countries throughout South and Central America. My role was to help with translation and coordinate treatment plans for those who were being treated by the United States Navy. We worked in Puerto de San Jose and some of the smaller suburbs of the city.”
“I saw how little the people in some of these countries do have relative to things that I take for granted such as basic healthcare needs, a house to sleep in, and being able to eat as much as I want every day,” adds Corey, who says the experience also gave him the opportunity to make friends with ROTC cadets from around the U.S.
“I also learned that communication is a very powerful tool and so is learning another language. Now whenever I visit another country I want to have a good idea of how to speak the language and feel like I could hold a conversation with the people just to interact with them.”