FORT BENNING, Georgia – Twenty four International Military Students from 16 partner nations completed the Maneuver Captains Career Course and received their school’s badge during a ceremony June 10 at the Bibb Mill Event Center.
For the students, it was a chance to celebrate their successful completion of the MCCC at the Maneuver Center of Excellence with their host families from the community.
“They build a lifetime relationship,” explained Mark Irish, Chief of the International Military Student Office. “It’s an opportunity to interact with students from other countries and backgrounds.”
The sponsor program has been in place for nearly as long as partner nations have been sending leaders to train at Fort Benning.
“We have sponsors that have been doing this for 40 years,” said Irish.
Sponsorship starts with a meet and greet hosted by the IMSO.
“You start with hello and exchange contact information,” said Erin Fourhman, a nine year sponsor veteran. “From there you live your life; go bowling, shopping, and have birthday parties. You go from strangers, to friends, to family.”
For some hosts, the imprint on their life is longstanding.
“I’m a different person, my family is different because of hosting,” explained Fourhman. “I have family all over the world now.”
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Gary Johnson, a 14 year host veteran. “You can’t understand how respected the United States is around the world until you talk to these students.”
Being welcomed and included as family is a key part of student’s life here.
“It’s been a fun experience, a warm experience,” said Capt. Magon Aspinall of the Belize Defence Force. “I was new to them, but they treated me like they’ve known me forever.”
The experience is shared by the students and their sponsors.
“We show them what American life is,” said Johnson “They ask us real life questions, and we tell them how it is.”
For more information on becoming a host family, contact the International Military Student Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.