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
, an intense international experience that takes cadets to countries of strategic importance to the U.S. Corps of Cadets’ International Excursions Program
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.
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-R model to the U.S. government.