The son of a U.S. Air Force veteran turned commercial pilot, Matthew Hill ’19 describes traveling as his favorite hobby. “It’s not uncommon for my family to jump on a standby flight and spend a weekend somewhere new,” said Hill.
“I learn something new about the world and myself every time I travel,” he added. “So, when I was given the opportunity to study abroad through the Corps of Cadets’ International Excursions Program, I knew I had to apply.”
The excursions are offered as part of a partnership between the Corps and the Study Abroad Programs Office. Established in 2011 by Commandant Brig. Gen. Joe Ramirez Jr. ’79, the program consists of three short-term study abroad trips each summer. On each 10- to 12-day trip, approximately 26 cadets in each group gain a strong understanding of the key geopolitical, economic and social forces shaping the globe. In the past, students have traveled to countries such as Kuwait, Qatar, Japan, China, India, Chile, Korea, Poland, Germany, Israel and Armenia, to name a few.
This past year, students traveled to Australia and Brazil as well as England and France. “I was especially excited about the England and France trip, because I knew the Aggie network was strong there,” said Hill, and he was right. Wherever the students went, Aggies and friends of Aggies were there to teach students about the intricacies of political, military and business life in two of America’s most important allies.
Adapted from the U.S. Army War College’s DIME model, each trip agenda focuses on educating cadets about a country’s key sources of national influence and power: Diplomacy, Information, Military and Economics. In addition, cadets explore the local religion and culture to gain the fullest possible picture of a nation’s perspective on international issues. Every activity, from visiting with peers and political leaders abroad to touring influential institutions, relates to studying national power through a global lens, challenging cadets to think critically and develop a mature global outlook.
“We want cadets to learn how we do business with a given country, how that country uses information as influence and what type of military relationship we share,” said Meredith Simpson ’03, assistant commandant for academics and international programs. “We want them to gain a global competence that manifests itself as a global confidence."
Developing Global Leaders
Participants receive a one-hour military science credit, which students may apply to a leadership certificate. Excursions are open to cadets of all majors, but selection is competitive and based on academic and extracurricular merit. There is always a long waiting list, which is why expanding the program through private support is a priority for the Corps.
“This program strikes at the heart of the Corps’ goals,” said Hill. “Our purpose statement calls for the development of well-educated leaders of character who are prepared for the global challenges of the 21st century, and this program strives to do just that.”
Approximately 14 percent of cadets participate in an international experience each year—and one in five of those participating do so through a Corps excursion—but the Commandant hopes to increase the number of cadets traveling abroad to 20 percent by 2025. To help achieve this goal, the Corps Development Office is seeking donors to endow the current excursions and fund at least one more international trip.
The existing excursions are funded through the Commandant’s office, and the cost of each trip is between $80,000 and $100,000. In spring 2017, the Corps added a domestic trip to Washington D.C. in which participants spent a week applying the DIME model to the U.S. government.
Endowed funding would secure the future of these excursions in perpetuity and ensure program growth for future generations of Texas A&M cadets. A $1 million endowment would permanently endow the Washington D.C. excursion, while each international excursion can be endowed with a $2.5 million gift. Gifts of $25,000 or more, all payable over a five-year period, can contribute to the program’s overall fundraising goals.
Donors funding one or more trips will be invited to executive briefings pre- and post-trip and will be encouraged to join groups on excursions as their schedules permit. Naming rights will be offered to donors who permanently endow one or more trips.
“The significance of ensuring that our young people understand the global marketplace cannot be understated,” said Ramirez. “Having traveled to countries around the world, I know the advantages of understanding a country’s environment, culture and the way people view the world. These trips are integral to developing our next generation of leaders for the U.S. military, government, and the U.S. private and business sector.”
To support the Corps’ International Excursions Program, contact Rori Brownlow ’05, Business Operations Manager for the Corps of Cadets, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 458-0326.