Army ROTC Cadets get chance to travel and help

The Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency Program (CULP) is a program that the Army ROTC that gives cadets the opportunity to travel the globe and immerse themselves in foreign cultures. Three cadets were selected from Marshall University this year to participate in the program and had the opportunity to travel to West Africa and The Republics of Slovenia and Slovakia.

Junior Sociology major, Chris Gonzalez, was one of the cadets selected to go during the Summer of 2015. He traveled to Burkina Faso, West Africa and spent 30 days in the country.

“I went there to help train the foreign military and immerse myself in the culture.” Gonzalez said. “The experience was pretty rewarding.”

Gonzalez said he was excited to practice his knowledge of the French language and enjoyed every aspect of the experience.

“Just that one month I was gone, a lot of things changed there and a lot of things changed when I came back.”

— Chris Gonzalez

“My favorite part was probably traveling.” Gonzalez said. “Whether it was the Village of Timbale or even on safari. We didn’t just stay there. We got to go to Ghana, which is a very jungle type place, we got to see all sorts of city infrastructure and we got to go shopping. It was all really cool.”

Gonzalez was with eight other people from various universities across the country and most of the people around his age.

“I was excited.” Gonzalez said. “I had a big work load while I was there but I couldn’t wait to get there and get immersed in the culture and see what I could do to really help the people there and how they could help me become a better person.”

Gonzalez enjoyed the experience so much that he recommends it to other ROTC cadets.

“If anybody ever gets the chance to travel, I really recommend it.” Gonzalez said. “Just that one month I was gone, a lot of things changed there and a lot of things changed when I came back.”

Senior nursing major, Colton Whitehouse, ventured into the program during the summer of 2014 and went to Burundi, Africa on a medical mission.

“When I first got there, we went to the Burundian Military Compound to help teach English and then my group split in half.” Whitehouse said. “All the medical like nursing, pre-med and any one like that went to the hospitals that were there and tried to help them out.”

Whitehouse’s favorite part was working in the orphanage that was being ran by two people from the United States.

“We moved a bunch of dirt for them,” Whitehouse said. “They were building a new section of their orphanage to run a maternity clinic because they are in the woods and there is nowhere to really do that.”

The program helps teach cultural sensitivity and designates leadership roles.

“It fits within the military bearings but it’s different from your typical training.” Whitehouse said. “All the counties they send us to, our Army works with their Army so it’s just not random places.”

Whitehouse found the experience to be extremely humbling.

“Kids there were ecstatic just to get a plastic bottle to play with or carry water in.” Whitehouse said. “That alone would put a smile on their face. People who could be healed in the United States over there are dying or living horrible lives just because they didn’t have the ability to fix them.”

Desmond Groves can be contacted at [email protected]