by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Listening to the conversations during the 2012 International Fellows Reception was a bit like tuning in to all of the world's top news channels at once.
An annual event since the early 1990s, the reception brought together approximately 150 campus-community members with roughly 150 current and future military leaders from 49 countries and six continents. The results were high-level conversations in multiple languages and unparalleled networking and learning experiences for students interested in global cultures, military and political science and related disciplines.
Chris Gregoire '13, a Liberty Cap Society member, has attended the reception for the past three years. "I definitely enjoy the opportunity to converse with so many different people with diverse backgrounds," he said. "It's pretty amazing to share a room with so many top military commanders from around the world."
Institutional partnerships, professional connections
The annual reception stems from Dickinson's longstanding tradition of cooperative research and resource-sharing with the U.S. Army War College (USAWC), a higher-education institution that trains officers and civilians for strategic research and leadership. In place for decades, the partnership grew even more dynamic with the recent launch of Dickinson's security-studies-certificate program and the founding of the Omar N. Bradley Chair in Strategic Leadership.
Today, national and international leaders and scholars teach courses on both campuses and at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law, and students from all three institutions come together for seminars and guest lectures. Dickinson students also enter internships at the USAWC Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute and Strategic Studies Institute and work directly with international fellows and their family members through a multilingual-tutoring program. They have a chance to interact with family members of USAWC Fellows in the classroom as well, thanks to a cooperative-enrollment program that brings additional international voices to in-class discussions.
The chance to meet with some of the USAWC's international colonels and generals adds additional depth to students' understanding of world cultures and affairs, said Elizabeth Woods Meikrantz '95. Each year, a few students studying military science and globally focused disciplines have had the opportunity to do so at the International Fellows Reception, and the college extended the invitation to a greater number of students this year.
"The students I spoke with were thrilled," Meikrantz added.
Connection and possibility
For Gregoire, the highlight of the evening was the chance to converse in Russian with a fellow from Bulgaria. "I even shared some pictures and stories from a brief trip I made to Sofia, Bulgaria, during the two years I spent in Ukraine," he said, adding that for him, the experience lent new meaning to the Dickinson axiom "engage the world."
William Nelligan '14, a double major in political science and history, was inspired by a friendly conversation between Israeli and Palestinian military officers. "This was a very open-minded and open-hearted event that brought together people from very different places in every sense of the term—geographically, culturally, ideologically," he said. "You never know what good might come from those connections at some point down the road."
Photo by Carl Socolow '77
Published October 28, 2012