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Corps Feature

Cosmopolitan Cadets

By Savanna Hoover '18

Spirit Student Worker

For Sydney Anderson ’18, the trip to South Africa—her first time abroad—was life-altering.

“Living in the United States shelters us,” she said. “We often become so engrossed in our lives that we fail to recognize what is happening in the world. Witnessing drastic poverty and the spirituality that permeates South Africa was a significant growing point for me.”

Anderson is a D-1 cadet from Yoder, Colorado, who serves as first sergeant of the Parsons Mounted Cavalry and plans to work in land development as a civil engineer. In 2017, she participated in the Corps of Cadets’ International Excursions Program, an intense international experience that takes cadets to countries of strategic importance to the U.S.

Sydney Anderson '18 broadened her horizons by traveling to South Africa.

Established in 2011 with strong support from the Commandant, Brig. Gen. Joe Ramirez Jr. ’79, the program consists of three short-term study abroad trips annually after the spring semester. On each 10- to 12-day trip, approximately 26 cadets gain a strong understanding of the key geopolitical, economic and social forces shaping the globe. Students have traveled to countries such as Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, China, India, Chile, Korea, Poland, Germany, Israel and Armenia, to name a few. This May, cadets will travel to Brazil and Australia in addition to a combined trip to England and France.

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. The Commandant added Religion and Culture to the DIME model because of the role each plays in understanding a host country. Every activity, from visiting with peers and political leaders abroad to touring influential institutions, relates to studying national power through a global lens. This challenges 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 academic and international programs. “We want them to gain a global competence that manifests itself as a global confidence.”

Participants receive a 1-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 of Cadets.

Changing Worldviews

Chris Hernandez ’19, an El Paso native and the cadet sergeant major for the Second Regiment, traveled abroad through two different Corps programs. He first participated in a military exchange program at Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg, Germany, before traveling to China on a Corps excursion last spring.

Like Anderson, Hernandez returned from his trip with similarly compelling insights, which he shared during one of the mandatory three-hour briefings that cadets give the Commandant following each excursion. “Traveling in China and being ‘the foreigner’ was transformative,” he said. “It made me aware of my status as an American on the world stage. I learned that humans have the same motives and emotions across the world, but the challenge is decrypting how individuals express themselves and then bringing them together.”

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 spend a week applying the DIME model to the U.S. government.

ITinerary: Two Days in China

Day 1

  • 09:00: Briefing at U.S. Embassy
  • 12:00: Lunch
  • 13:00: Visit with the People's Liberation Army
  • 14:30: Great Wall Tour
  • 17:00: National Museum of China Tour
  • 18:30: Explore Tiananmen Square Market

Day 2

  • 09:30: U.S. Embassy Visit
  • 12:30: Lunch
  • 14:00: Visit Fudan University
  • 16:00: Visit the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai
Chris Hernandez '19 learned leadership skills on his trip in China.

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 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 Gen. 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/business sector.”

To support the Corps' International Excursions Program, contact Tom Pool '96, director of development for the Corps of Cadets, at or (979) 862-9154.

international excursions program photos

  • Cape of Good Hope

    Cadets at the Cape of Good Hope, the most Southwestern point of the African continent.
  • Corps of Cadets International Excursions Map

    A world map of all the places cadets have traveled with the Corps of Cadets' International Excursions Program. Countries include Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, China, India, Chile, Korea, Poland, Germany, Israel and Armenia, to name a few.
  • Robben Island Museum

    Cadets visit the Robben Island Museum in South Africa to further their understanding of the history and culture of the region.
  • Aggie Rings Sparkle

    Four senior Aggie rings sparkle on a cliff in South Africa.
  • Wildcat in Africa

    Sydney Anderson '18 demonstrates her wildcat on the banks of a South African river.
  • South African Penguins

    Cadets observe penguins after visiting the Simon's Town Naval Base.
  • Panama

    Cadets visiting Panama.
  • Shanghai Skyline

    Cadets visit Shanghai, China, to study elements of national power.