Go Gold Cadets Train Abroad
This summer four Gold Gold cadets traveled abroad through U.S. Army Cadet Command’s Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) Program. Vanderbilt junior Jonathan Berger spent his summer training with the Israeli Defense Forces while sophomore Michael Lindsay and juniors Kevin Daley and Savannah Shepherd traveled to Bulgaria.
Cadets Daley, Lindsay and Shepherd spent June at the National Military University, the Bulgarian equivalent of West Point. Their team’s mission was to assist in English classes and join in military training. Cadet Shepherd, who also recently spent a semester in Israel, said, “For me, the best part of the trip was watching the Bulgarian cadets become more comfortable with us and their English each day. We also had the opportunity to participate in rappelling and weapons training with Russian pistols and AK-47s. CULP was a great experience for us as cadets and as future officers, because it pushed us outside of our comfort zone as Americans to work with soldiers from a culture and with a language that we weren't familiar with, which is something we are going to have to do often in the military.”
When they were not teaching or attending classes, the cadets had the opportunity to travel around Bulgaria, swim in the Black Sea, visit national heritage sites and attend a folk festival with native dancing. Cadets completed their cultural immersion by observing a cadet combat exercise, learning Bulgarian words and of course, sampling native food.
The Army increasingly emphasizes cultural awareness for its officers in training. Last year, 1,200 cadets traveled across the world with Cadet Command's CULP program. Go Gold cadets have traveled since the beginning of the CULP program across the Unified Combatant Commands to countries including Guatemala, Rwanda, Slovakia, Thailand, and Vietnam. ROTC currently offers monetary incentives for cadets to study critical languages such as Arabic and Chinese.