Writing and Rewriting History

Col. Rory Crooks, director of the USAWC International Fellows program

Col. Rory Crooks, director of the USAWC International Fellows program, delivers remarks during a May 8 ceremony in honor of students who tutor War College students.

Student-tutors honored by U.S. Army at annual ceremony

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Every year, approximately 80 fast-track military and government professionals from more than 70 countries come to the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) to enroll in the International Fellows master’s program in strategic studies. And every year, those from non-English-speaking countries face a daunting task—presenting complex original research in writing—in a non-native language.

“It’s a difficult year, with a lot of intensive research and writing—paper after paper—and you know something about that,” said Col. Rory Crooks, the head of the USAWC International Fellows program, speaking during a May 8 ceremony in honor of student-tutors who lent these scholars a hand.

Held in the Stern Center Great Room, the ceremony highlighted the contributions of the nearly 40 multilingual tutors who worked with fellows and their family members in the Norman M. Eberly Multilingual Writing Center during the 2016-17 academic year.

An aspect of Dickinson's longstanding resource-sharing partnership with the USAWC, this student-tutoring program is popular at the War College because it goes beyond syntax and grammar and helps the fellows become better writers, said Jeremy Beussink, a USAWC writing instructor. It also provides excellent intercultural training to Dickinson students, adds Noreen Lape, director of the writing program, who noted that while student-tutors sharpen their own writing skills by helping the fellows with graduate-level papers and reports, they build on their understanding of global cultures and relations.

"And the ones who tutor for two or three years go even deeper," Lape added, explaining that students may opt to broaden their scope by tutoring international fellows from several countries, or they might focus on one region of the world, like East Asian studies major Sarah Brand ’17, who plans to work in Tokyo and enriched her knowledge of Japanese culture—and her professional contacts in that country—by tutoring Japanese fellows over the course of two years.

These efforts may also have farther-reaching effects, Crooks said, since USAWC grads typically move on to high-level military and governmental positions. They include Gen. Alberto Jose Mejia, director of the Colombian national army, who helped work toward a peace accord last year, less than a decade after he developed strategies to do so as a member of the USAWC's class of '08. 

"He was able to put what he was studying [at the War College] into practice, and he was instrumental in bringing peace to Columbia after 53 years," Crooks said, stressing that when student-tutors help future global leaders like Mejia, they potentially play a small part in similar history-writing to come. “So I want to thank you, on behalf of this institution, for everything you do. Your contribution is huge.”

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Published May 10, 2017