Cadets Attend CULP Program

Cadets Attend CULP Program

CDT Nick Seibold shows Louisville pride in Burkina Faso, Africa

Over the Summer 4 cadets were able to participate in the Cultural Understanding and Language Program (CULP). Cadets Brandon Elswick, Koty Caldwell, and Nick Seibold traveled to Burkina Faso to teach english to cadets from several countries while Cadet Joey Ward traveled to Spain to train with their Airborne unit. Here is what some of them had to say.

 

 

NAME: Nick Seibold

MS CLASS: III

LOCATION: Burkina Faso

DATES: 12-May-2013 to 12-June-2013

After you found out you were going what did you have to do to prepare for your CULP?

There was a lot I had to do in order to prepare for my CULP deployment. I had to complete online anti-terrorism training, Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) training, Human Rights Awareness training, and an ISOPREP survey to prepare in case I became isolated. I also needed to apply for an official government passport. All of those certificates and tasks needed to be completed before the 15th of February. Then, by the 1st of March, I needed to receive immunizations against Yellow Fever, Meningococcal Meningitis, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid Fever, Tetanus, and Influenza. Cadet Caldwell and I made frequent trips to Fort Knox in order to get the required immunizations and to purchase required gear such as boots, socks, and clothes.

What was your time in processing at Ft Knox like?

Our in-processing time was atypical. The original schedule was to report to Fort Knox on 12-May-2013, and leave for Burkina Faso on about the 17th of May. Unfortunately, the passports for our entire team were lost in a warehouse somewhere. So, for an extra week, we were stuck on Fort Knox. During that time, we went to the SRP site to get additional immunizations and blood work done, checked everyone’s equipment, did PT and waited. There was an awful lot of waiting for passports, which fortunately came in. We also started taking our anti-malarial medicine so that we’d be resistant to the parasite upon arrival to Burkina Faso.

How was traveling both going and coming back?

Traveling there was eventful. Our itinerary took us from Louisville to Atlanta to Paris, to Niger, to Burkina Faso. During our stop in Paris, 3 of our cadets (Koty Caldwell, Alex Henry, and Zach Pillow) were not allowed through security because of a mistake with the tickets they had been issued in the Louisville airport. So they had to spend the night in Paris with one of our cadre. They were fortunately able to arrive the next day, so we were not split up for too long.

Traveling back was less hectic, but has its fair share of stories. Security in the Burkinabé airport was much different than it was in the US. In the US, each bag goes through a scanner and each person goes through either a metal detector or a full body scanner. The same process is used in Burkina Faso’s airport, but in addition to that, there’s also a security checkpoint to get into the seating area outside the gate. There, they inspect each carry-on by hand, to check for anything dangerous that the scanner didn’t pick up. Following that, the airport used a bus to transport us about 100 meters to the aircraft (Which we literally could have walked). Then we flew to Niger, where we were delayed by a sandstorm for about an hour, and caused me to be concerned about if we were going to be on time for our flight from Paris to Atlanta. Fortunately, the security lines in Paris were much shorter that day, so we were able to fly right through security, find our plane, and get on the plane that took us back to the United States.

What was an average day like? What were your duties?

We stayed at the Georges Naomano Military Academy, where our primary mission was to teach English to the cadets there. The cadets there actually come from 11 countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Mali, Ivory Coast, Benin, Senegal, Gabon, the Central African Republic, Togo, and Guinea. On a typical day, we’d get up early to eat breakfast with the cadets. Then we would spend most of the day before and after lunch planning and designing our lesson. We taught them about American holidays, the structure of the American military, our government, about American food, music, sports, and more. During these lessons, we also got to hear about their culture, which served as a great teaching tool, because they were forced to speak English instead of their native French.

After dinner, the cadets generally have study time for two hours before they go to bed. While we were there, we’d attend this study time and practice English with them. There were only 8 of us and 45 of them, so we rotated around the room to make sure everyone got to practice a little English every night. Those sessions were where I got to learn the most about the Cadets and their respective cultures. Following study time, it was time to go to bed and prepare for the next day.

What was the one thing that added most to your experience?

The one thing that added most to my experience was my ability in French. I’ve studied French for 3 years now, and I thought knowing some words would be helpful to my experience in Burkina Faso, but I completely underestimated how competently I can speak French. I was able to communicate many ideas completely in French, which allowed me to be understood by the African cadets. My knowledge of French combined with their knowledge of English enhanced our ability to communicate, and made the experience much cooler. I also had to translate for many members of my team, so I became a much more valuable asset to my fellow cadets and my superior officers.

What was your worst experience?

The worst experience throughout entire deployment was our lack of a language instructor to help us design our lessons for the African cadets. Most Cadet English Language Training Teams (CELT) received a contracted language instructor who was supposed to help plan lessons and teach us how to better interface with the cadets at the AMGN. Ours did not arrive, and he severely impacted our ability to be better teachers. We managed just fine, but not having assets we were supposed to have at our disposal hurt our ability to operate at our full potential.

 

NAME:  Koty Michael Caldwell

MS CLASS:  3

LOCATION:   University of Louisville

DATES:  12 May-12 June 2013

After you found out you were going what did you have to do to prepare for your CULP?

In order to prepare for CULP we had to go through medical processes such as getting shot records, additional shots to what we had already had, and being medically cleared if need be. We were required to do online training and show proof of completion and finish briefings and other assigned tasks on time as declared by our mission commander and/or team leader (both of which change several times prior to arriving on Ft. Knox Military Base).

What was your time in processing at Ft Knox like?

Everything was well organized for us once we finally arrived on Ft. Knox. We had a general schedule anyway and certain days where we were required to show up to events/informational briefings that were given to help us on our travels.

How was traveling both going and coming back?

My group did not leave on the projected date so we had less time in country than we would have wanted. Myself plus two other cadets got stranded in Paris for a day due to a lack of boarding passes. Coming back was a lot smoother though, we got stuck in a sandstorm on our first stop Naemey, Niger.

What was an average day like? What were your duties?

An average day was wake-up anywhere from 0400-0600 and then breakfast. After breakfast we would go create our lesson plan for the day and then work on it until lunch and then go to lunch anywhere from 1130-1300. After lunch we would have time to continue our lesson plan and prepare for it. After dinner (anywhere from 1800-2000), we would get ready to give our lesson for that day and then have cadet interaction time with the Burkinabe Cadets. Then we would wake up and do it all again.

What was the one thing that added most to your experience?

I would say the interaction with the cadets, whom were from 11 other countries besides the one we were located. It was the most rewarding part in my opinion.

What was your worst experience?

The worst experience was the run the morning after we got there because they were not very thoughtful in how they planned their run (i.e. not accounting for the fact that not everyone can run as fast as they can for that far).

 

NAME: Ward, Joseph A

LOCATION: Madrid, Spain – Brigada Paracaidistas

DATES: 28MAY2013-27JUN2013

What did you do to prepare for CULP?

In preparation Spain each cadet was given a research assignment regarding something about Spain. For me I had the Spanish military learning structure, size, capabilities and courtesies that I then briefed my fellow cadets before going to Spain.

From your experience what did you see that was different about the Spanish Army compared to the United States Army?

What is different and stuck out for me was how poorly paid the Spanish soldiers are compensated and that they cannot reach retirement until 67 years old.  They were in the Army purely for the glory and defense of Spain since there are no school incentives or medical benefits (universal healthcare).

How was jumping with the Spanish Army?

Jumping with Spain was great. Everyone was very professional and I felt very secure and trusted my equipment. They were very excited to jump with us and it was meaningful to them as we became good friends.

What were your day to day tasks?

0700 breakfast. 0800 for PT which was always a run. 1000-1200 English classes for the Spaniards. 1200-1230 Lunch. 1230-1600 was different every day to include the range, airborne retraining, tours of equipment etc. 1600 until bed we were not usually allowed to leave the barracks.

What added most to your experience?

Spending time with our Spanish friends on the weekends outside the base in different Spanish cities.

Was there anything you did not like about the trip or thought was hard?

The only thing I did not like was that we were never really allowed to go do independent things during our off hours.