Confucius Institute at Texas A&M University Organized Corps of Cadets International Excursion focuse

Date: 6/25/2009

On May 19th, 10 members of the Corps of Cadets 2009-2010 leadership traveled to Beijing, Qingdao, Hong Kong, and Taipei, with a focus on strengthening the language and cultural competency of future military officers. The program was designed to give the cadets a greater understanding of the local culture, language, history economy and politics. Cadets commented that the excursion helped them to obtain “a real feel” for China’s major role in the world.

The trip represented the first of what university representatives will become an annual tradition at Texas A&M, an international expedition among cadet leaders to expose future leaders to key regions around the world and to give them a greater understanding of the cultural and historical roots within those regions. The trips are also designed to provide the cadets with rudimentary language skills, and to encourage critical language study among future military personnel.

Professor of Naval Science Colonel Gerald Smith ’82 said the program had achieved its goal: “The cadets experienced a life changing event, they have a new found appreciation for China issues as well as a new understanding of the importance of learning about other cultures and foreign languages.”

To cultivate language skills among the cadets, the excursion created a number of opportunities for them to learn daily Chinese during the trip. In Beijing, the cadets visited the Confucius Institute Headquarters where they were briefed about the origin and development of Chinese language. At the Ocean University of China, Chinese Literature Professor Yirong Luo gave the students a comprehensive lecture on the structure and learning methods of Chinese language. At the end of the trip, some cadets learned to write Chinese characters and obtained enough conversational mandarin to formally greet others, order meals, and shop at the night markets.

During the excursion, the cadets were able to interact with Chinese students at Ocean University of China in Qingdao, and at National Taiwan University. During these meetings, the cadets discussed everything from music to government and diplomacy. The interactions with students provided the cadets with a very different perspective on many issues facing China.” “We enjoyed the interaction so much we hosted the Ocean University students for dinner that evening, what began as a seemingly insignificant cultural discussion blossomed into lasting friendships,” said cadet Cade Taylor of the Aggie Band.

The cadets also took a hike up the Great Wall and made visits to the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the 2008 Olympic Venues. “To have had the opportunity to travel half way around the world with fellow cadets and experience China’s rich culture and interact with its people is something we will never forget,” said Brent Lanier ’10 Corps of Cadets Commander.

The excursion is part of a project at Texas A&M University focused on engaging Corps of Cadets in critical language study. Selected cadets received a full scholarship for the excursion through a grant provided to Texas A&M University by the Institute for International Education. The grant, part of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Language and Culture Project, is to provide opportunities for ROTC cadets and midshipmen to study the languages and cultures of world regions critical to U.S. national security。 The program goals are to create on-campus and overseas programs to enable students in the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets to gain greater exposure to the Chinese and Arabic-speaking worlds, as well as to create courses and other programs to improve language skills. The project is a collaborative effort of the International Programs Office at Texas A&M University, the Corps of Cadets, the Confucius Institute, and the Arabic and Asian Languages Office in the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University.

25 Jun 2009 - 12:00pm


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