Home

US Army Cadets train with Romanian Jandarmeria (2013)

Leave a comment

Cadets trained with Romania's First Battalion, Special Intervention Brigade of the Jandarmeria.  The Jandarmeria is a police force organized like a military unit.

Cadets trained with Romania’s First Battalion, Special Intervention Brigade of the Jandarmeria.
The Jandarmeria is a police force organized like a military unit.

Every year, college students all over the country spend their summers partying, sleeping, and sometimes working. I, on the other hand, had the unique opportunity to spend my summer representing my country in Romania through the U.S. Army.
The Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency is a program offered exclusively to Army ROTC cadets. Through CULP, Cadets travel in a group to a foreign country to conduct non-combat missions specific to their destination. While overseas, my team was able to become fully immersed in Romanian language in culture. We made lifelong friends, ate amazing food, and overall, had the time of my life.

Our team, combined with another team assigned to Romania, consisted of 21 Cadets and one cadre leader. We were located in the capital city of Romania, Bucharest, for 23 days. Our mission in this vibrant city was to work with the First Battalion, Special Intervention Brigade of the Jandarmeria.

Training for building entry with the Jandarmeria

Training for building entry with the Jandarmeria

The Jandarmeria is a police force organized like a military unit. The men and women in the brigade all struck us as very pleasant and professional despite not appearing to make a lot of money or having the best living conditions. Specifically, our mission was centered on improving the English language skills and proficiency of the Jandarmeria soldiers.

In turn, our colleagues would help enhance our understanding of Romanian culture and history. This was accomplished by dividing the Cadets and our Jandarmeria counterparts into four different groups. This allowed for a more personal experience between the Cadets and our Romanian counterparts, and encouraged English communication proficiency with the Romanians.

Cadets practicing land nav with the Romanian soldiers.

Cadets practicing land nav with the Romanian soldiers.

We discussed topics such as holidays, sports, flags, history, the military and rank structure, and tactics. This strategy facilitated colorful discussion, and consequently showed a clear and successful increase in their English language skills and understanding of American culture. Our team also gained valuable knowledge about the Romanian language, culture and the differences and similarities between ours and theirs. These are valuable experiences that will help us when we become officers, as well as help Romanians interact with Americans in future endeavors.
While our schedule was hectic and time was precious, our team did have the opportunity to travel the country of Romania and experience two distinct and vibrant cities on the weekends. This part of our time in Romania enhanced our understanding of the distinctive regions on Romania, and how they are all different and separately energetic.
We enjoyed our first free weekend in the quaint Romanian city of Brasov.

Brasov is located in Transylvania, centered between three large mountains, which added to the animated culture of this small, mountain village. Several of our Romanian counterparts joined us to help further develop our understanding of the history and culture of the Transylvania region of Romania, as opposed to the urban jungle we were familiar with in Bucharest. While in Brasov, we visited the old city’s fortifications and Dracula’s castle which enriched our appreciation for Romania’s rich and diverse history.

Cadets explored Dracula’s castle near the city of Brasov along with other sites to learn about the culture

Cadets explored Dracula’s castle near the city of Brasov along with other sites to learn about the culture

Our second weekend trip consisted of a three hour adventure to Constanta, a lively town located on the Black Sea. The Romanians traveled along once again. The weekend trips provided an opportunity to experience Romanian culture to its fullest. Although the weekends were incredible and very interesting, we also enjoyed great cultural experiences in Bucharest too.
In Bucharest, we visited many museums centered on Romanian history, military, and culture. We, and our Romanian counterparts, saw the national bank—one of the most luxurious buildings I have ever seen. Other museums we toured include the National Art Museum, the Jandarmeria Museum, The Parliament Building, and the Old Village Museum. The Old Village Museum was especially interesting because it shows how the lives of Romanians has changed and developed throughout the centuries, a crucial aspect of any cultural study.
Overall, the trip was excellent. While we completed our mission of increasing their English proficiency, working with the Jandarmeria taught us how to interact with foreign units which gives us valuable experience in the future as officers. Through our weekend trips our group gained experience in interacting and dealing with a different culture which will help as officers as we deal with civilian populations. The trip resulted in many new experiences and we formed good relationships with the Romanians. The friends we made and the experience we hade will last a lifetime and will always be in our hearts and minds.

Playing volleyball  was not only good for PT, but good for us to practice a different language, and to socialize.

Playing volleyball was not only good for PT, but good for us to practice a different language, and to socialize.

CULP Cadets visit Lithuania Liberation Movement Bunker–(2013)

Leave a comment

Cadet Roessler made his way down into the resistance bunker in Ariogalos  to see the dimensions and living quarters of those who hid within it before being compromised.

Cadet Roessler made his way down into the resistance bunker in Ariogalos to see the dimensions and living quarters of those who hid within it before being compromised.

By Cadet Michael Cosenza
During our travel from Vilnius to Klaipeda Lithuania, we (Army ROTC Cadets participating in the Cultural Understanding Language Proficiency program) visited a local school and toured an old soviet-era, partisan bunker in Ariogalos, a small town in Lithuania.
Partisans are like guerilla warfare groups, or part of the resistance movement within Europe during WWII.

While there, we learned about the history of this bunker and about the Lithuanian resistance to the Soviet Union forces. We were also given a chance to meet with senior students at the school and learn about life as a Lithuanian teenager by engaging in one on one conversation. This opportunity gave us a chance to integrate with, and experience, Lithuanian culture from the perspective of native Lithuanians.

Once arriving in Ariogalos we toured the site of the bunker. While traveling to the forest where the hiding place had been built, we were briefed about the history of the partisan movement and specifically about the history of the bunker. It was constructed in 1948 during the Soviet Union’s occupation of Lithuania, becoming only known to few outside of the six resistance fighters who occupied its small quarters–six men had to cram inside and live shoulder to shoulder to make it work.

The bunkers in Lithuania were used to hide from the Soviet Army during the 1940s and 50s. The security of the bunker in Ariogalos was unfortunately compromised in 1950 by word of mouth from a member of the town. A Soviet supporter living in the city sold the location of the bunker to the Soviets, which led to the discovery and deaths of the partisans that were hiding there. Five of the six men were killed, while the sixth was taken into captivity and tortured for information which eventually led to his death. Following the assault on the men living within the bunker, it was destroyed.

A marker was placed by the local Lithuanians at the site of the Ariogalos resistance bunker to remember the ones whose lives were lost when the hiding place was compromised in 1950.

A marker was placed by the local Lithuanians at the site of the Ariogalos resistance bunker to remember the ones whose lives were lost when the hiding place was compromised in 1950. Although dirt shows the exact location of where the bunker could be found today, when it was built the location would have greatly concealed its location.

But after the fall of the Soviet Union, a monument dedicated to the partisans who died was erected and in 2010 the bunker was excavated and rebuilt by local citizens of Ariogalos. The bunker is located approximately four hundred meters into the woods. We were granted the opportunity to climb inside to take a look at the conditions in which the partisans had to live. While inside we experienced the cramped quarters the resistance fighters had to contend with while hiding from the Soviet Army.

Cadet Hoffman takes off during the relay race, between the Cadets and students at Ariogalos Gimnazija, while the national 100 meter sprint record setter in Lithuania (left) reaches for his team's baton.

Cadet Hoffman takes off during the relay race, between the Cadets and students at Ariogalos Gimnazija, while the national 100 meter sprint record setter in Lithuania (left) reaches for his team’s baton.

Following the tour of the bunker we traveled back to town where we visited the school, Ariogalos Gimnazija. We answering questions about life in the United States and asking questions about life in Lithuania—an experience that enhanced each countries cadets and students grasp a better understanding of each culture. A short time later we moved outside to the school’s athletic field or “stadium” and participated in several activities with the students that included competition firing pellet guns, followed by running a 4×400 meter relay race against the schools runners.

Over the course of our trip we were able to broaden our mindset of other cultures because of the opportunity to integrate with the Lithuanians, and also by being taught the history and struggle for independence that Lithuania has seen.

Cadets visit Brigada Paracaidista–lessons in culture and language (2013)

Leave a comment

           

Our hard earned Airborne wings.

Our hard earned Airborne wings.

Eight Army ROTC Cadets from around the U.S. landed in Madrid, Spain June 1 with the missions of teaching Spanish soldiers tactical English, gaining a better understanding of Spanish culture, and earning our Spanish Airborne wings. These goals were achieved through countless hours in the classroom, various training environments, and visits to various cities in Spain.

Shortly after arriving we were plunged headlong into Spanish culture by enjoying a traditional lunch followed by a visit to the Sofia Renia Museum.

We visited several musuems to learn about Spanish history.

We visited several musuems to learn about Spanish history.

A few days later we were introduced to the soldiers we would accompany for the next few weeks. These Spanish paratroopers are part of the elite Brigada Paracaidista (BRIPAC) of the Spanish Army. The unit has been in existence since 1953 and has seen combat in multiple theaters such as Kosovo, Bosnia, and also as a quick reaction force (QRF) in Afghanistan.

We trained to the Spanish Army’s schedule beginning with a five to seven mile run in the mornings, followed by teaching English to the Spanish soldiers, and then either military training or a chance to experience the culture by traveling to nearby towns. On the weekends we travelled to Spanish cities accompanied by a few of the Spanish soldiers who acted as guides. These trips included visits to the Infantry Academy and the Army Museum in Toledo, the Artillery Academy and the Military Archives in Segovia, and to the unit museum on the base. Other visits included the historical cities of Madrid, Sevilla, and Barcelona.

Teaching our counterparts conversational English

Teaching our counterparts conversational English

Throughout the three weeks that we were with Spanish soldiers, we felt like we formed a brotherhood. Every day that we were together we began to grow closer to each other. One day in particular we jumped with the Spanish paratroopers, earning our Spanish Airborne wings, called Rokiski. The Spanish airborne soldiers also earned their U.S. Army Airborne wings. This day we put our lives in the hands of each other as we helped each other rig our parachutes in preparation for the jump. It was a great bonding experience. After we completed the jump we celebrated with an afternoon out to lunch. 

At the end of the mission we said our farewells and traded gifts with our new brothers-in-arms knowing that the wisdom we all gained on this once-in-a-lifetime mission gave us the cultural knowledge that we may someday need to complete a multi-national mission.

Our new friends

Our new friends

Cadets teach English, shop on water (2013)

Leave a comment

Cadet Edward Rauch, a junior from The University of Scranton teaches Thai Army Aviation non-commissioned officers correct English pronunciation and vocabulary as a part of the U.S. Army ROTC Cultural Language and Understanding program this summer of 2013.

Cadet Edward Rauch, a junior from The University of Scranton teaches Thai Army Aviation non-commissioned officers correct English pronunciation and vocabulary as a part of the U.S. Army ROTC Cultural Language and Understanding program this summer of 2013.

The Army ROTC Cultural Understanding Language Proficiency program gives Army ROTC Cadets the opportunity to be immersed into a different culture so that Cadets can learn different features of the particular country visited. While Cadets may have left home with one expectation, the reality once they hit the ground wasn’t always the same.

“I never would have thought teaching our native language would be challenging,” said Cadet Edward Rauch, a junior from The University of Scranton, of his initial impression in Thailand. “But I now realize that I am also learning about their culture and understanding of our country and how rewarding teaching our language can be.”
Rauch studies nursing at The University of Scranton and added, “I feel as though this will give me more experience in interacting and teaching in other nations which is especially important in order to provide quality care to patients overseas on deployment to different countries.”

The floating market was a market place that was on the water and visitors shopped by rowing a boat up to each stall.

The floating market was a market place that was on the water and visitors shopped by rowing a boat up to each stall.

The Cadets gained further cultural experience through weekend excursions to historical and cultural sites. Rauch mentioned that one of the most fascinating destinations was the Floating market, “one of the prime examples of cultural differences between the U.S. and the South East Asia region.”

The future nurse has taken many cultural considerations from this trip and believes these experiences to be useful once he is commissioned as an officer in the Nurse Corps.

For more information on the Army ROTC CULP program visit:  http://www.cadetcommand.army.mil/culp/
https://www.facebook.com/ArmyCULP