By Mr. Michael Maddox (ROTC)May 16, 2016
FORT KNOX, Ky. -- Summer break is usually a time for rest, relaxation and possibly a little traveling for many college students. For Reserve Officers' Training Corps Cadet Twi Light Moody, rest and relaxation aren't on the schedule, but traveling is thanks to the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) program.
Moody, a Griffin, Ga. native, is at Fort Knox preparing to travel to Senegal as a part U.S. Army Cadet Command's CULP program. She is one of more than 1,300 Cadets who will travel across the globe to 43 different countries this summer though the program.
CULP is designed to immerse ROTC Cadets in various languages, cultures and socio-economic situations so they can learn, through training deployments personal experience, said Russ Stinger, CULP chief.
"We deploy Cadets around the world so they can learn about the local culture, culture in general, specific to the country where they are training - all to develop them as better leaders when they become lieutenants," he said. "We do this with a strategic focus of why our nation is engaged in the locations we are and the importance of understanding the people, the politics, and everything that influences the culture where we are conducting operations."
To engage the Cadets in the local communities, they take part in a variety of activities. One of those is being a member of a Cadet English Language Training Team (CELTT) -- where Cadets help their hosts practice English.
"A lot of our missions will have a CELTT component for a few days to a couple of weeks," said Stinger. "CELTT is very popular with the host nations. From their perspective, it's language training -- it gives them the opportunity to practice English."
"We don't go in there and teach English, they will have some level of English proficiency and they want the opportunity to practice and improve," he added. "From our perspective, it's cultural training because all of the topics of discussion that our Cadets are focused on are all cultural topics -- families, the military's role in society, sports, etc."
Some CULP missions include military-to-military engagements.
"Mil-to-mil engagements are similar to CELTT, except it's with a host nation military, and they will conduct training with them," said Stinger. "This can include going through a NATO or host nation school."
The last type of mission the Cadets can take part is humanitarian assistance.
"All of our missions will have an element of humanitarian assistance," he said. "Whether it's something like "Adopt-A-School" or visiting an orphanage, we do those for a myriad of reasons."
"It's Americans from the U.S. military out there doing good things -- we're establishing goodwill. It's also a vehicle for our Cadets to get out in the local population to areas they may not otherwise have the opportunity to go to," said Stinger. "It allows them to work with various aid organizations and local key players and see how they think and act, so we can all work in concert with them."
Cadet Jack Lausch, who will be a junior next year at Wheaton College, is no stranger to visiting foreign lands. He's been to Kenya, Israel, Australia and the Dominican Republic through various programs before he became a Cadet.
He said interested in experiencing the military aspect of going on his CULP mission to Senegal.
"I've been on a lot of international travels before, but applied for CULP because I wanted to see what traveling in the military is like and how we interact with the host nations," he said. "I'm excited because I want to go in with an open mind about what I can learn and see, especially because it's something completely different than what I've experienced before. I just like learning about the people and their culture."
Cadets interested going on a CULP mission must apply through the Army Cadet Portal after missions locations are announced September. Only contracted Cadets can apply. They are then notified toward the end of the semester if they have been accepted and where they will be traveling.
Stinger said the Cadets do get to provide their preferences on where which nation they would like to serve in. He added, having skills or experience for in relation to nation is also considered.
"Depending on any language or regional expertise that they may have, we assign Cadets to a country to capitalize on that expertise," he said.
After selection they are assigned online training to learn about the country of their deployment, as well as basic level training courses that every other Soldier deploying to that region must complete, like anti-terrorism, Survival-Evasion-Resistance and Escape (SERE), and survival phrases.
Once the semester is over, they come to Fort Knox to go through a Soldier Readiness Processing Center, just any other deploying Soldier would -- receiving a cultural block of instruction and taking part in group discussions before completing final checks and heading out on their mission.
This will be Moody's first international experience. The junior from the University of North Georgia said she is ready and eager to head to Africa.
"I signed up for CULP partly because I've never been out of the country - I haven't really met anyone who hasn't grown up in Georgia their entire life," she explained. "I thought this would be really good training, meeting new people and being immersed in another culture, that would really help round me out as an officer."