By: Savoury Jacobson.

FORT KNOX, KY. –On July, 12, 2017, Cadets traveled to Africa to gain experience interacting with foreign cultures using the Cultural Understanding and Leadership Proficiency program (CULP) . This will prepare them for future deployment operations where they will be required to coexist with other nations.

Cadet Sophia Walker from Baylor University wrote, “It was another fantastic week in Senegal. We were finally able to leave the city and delve into the countryside, where we experienced and witnessed the Senegalese traditional way of life. Birame, our previously mentioned interpreter, kindly opened his village up to us, and we, alongside the local villagers, all worked together to paint and concrete the school, happily concluding both days with a delicious, homemade meal.  It was a wonderful experience, enriched with cultural exchanges, dancing and wrestling matches that none of us will ever forget.”

Cadet Tylor Harper plays with a traditional Senegalese drum after learning variations of accompanied dances and rhythms at the Tangor Cafe on 22 July 2017.

The Cadets travel and participate in local culture.

“This week was very culturally immersive. We went to Birame’s village and it broke the stereotype I had from the city. The people had a warm welcome and were some of the nicest people I have met. According to the interpreter, there is no crime in the village because everyone is looking out for each other. When we ate, everyone ate from one plate. After we finished eating, the leftover were given to the kids. There the kids ate only with the hands, they had no utensils. It’s amazing that the people here have less resources and yet are happier than most people I’ve met. In contrast to the heavily populated Dakar, Kaolack and Saly have been a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of city life. It was eye-opening to see how resourceful and simply the people of these smaller villages live day to day. One thing remained the same, however: the generous hospitality and kindness they expressed to outsiders,” shared Cadet Daniel Cuticle from Boston University and Cadet Gerardo Costas from University of Puerto Rico.

Two to three weeks of training involves having the Cadets learn how to interact and exposes them to new experiences. According to Cadet Brain McDonough of Montclair State University, “…We traveled outside of the city of Dakar this week. The comparison between the city and rural areas is extremely different. The infrastructure within the city is much more advanced compared to the villages outside of the city. For example, electricity is very new to rural villages.  The village of Same, home of our interpreter Birame, just recently purchased a solar panel which was their first introduction to electricity. This concept of a village receiving electricity in 2017 is mind blowing being that my generation grew up on electricity. It creates a new appreciation for electricity and all the devices it powers.”

Captain John Rutledge from APMS Cornell University mentioned that, “The countryside and rural villages of Senegal exist in stark contrast to the cities of Dakar, Kaoloch, and Saly that we have visited. Having traveled on my own extensively and four combat deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, experiencing new cultures, seeing the contrast of the rural and urban lifestyle here, as well as differing levels and conditions of infrastructure are not new to me. However, the way that the Senegalese people have treated and interacted with us has been very positive compared to many of my other experiences. As this is the end of the second week the Cadets have all become more organized during the work projects, comfortable with interacting with locals, and asking pertinent cultural questions at the locations we visit and in discussions with our interpreter.  The Cadets have gotten to know each other much better by this point and have learned much from the variety of experiences we have had.”

Cadet Tylor Harper plays with a traditional Senegalese drum after learning variations of accompanied dances and rhythms at the Tangor Cafe on 22 July 2017.

Cadet Summer Training will bring around 8,200 Cadets through Basic and Advanced Camp this summer on Fort Knox. These camps are designed to help challenge, grow and improve various skills and leadership qualities within the Cadets. If you think you have what it takes to be a Cadet or if you are interested in a job after college click the following link: