Thursday, December 06, 2012
This summer, three Army ROTC cadets, Darren Lewis, a junior, mechanical engineering major, Domonique Goyner, a junior, criminal justice major and Harrison Goins, a junior mechanical engineering major embarked on an opportunity of a lifetime to travel abroad and educate students in English, mathematics and health disciplines. The students were granted this opportunity through a partnership with the U.S. Army Cadet Command’s Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency Program (CULP), a three-week program where students serve as ambassadors of the United States to learn about a country’s culture and language.
Through the CULP program the three cadets were granted an opportunity to travel to the following countries, Lewis traveled abroad to Benin, Africa, Goyner traveled abroad to the Republic of Rwanda and Goins traveled abroad to the Republic of the Marshall Islands to serve as cadre leaders and assist in the development of the country and in humanitarian assistance and service learning project efforts. While many American are lying in their beds and following an everyday routine, these cadets were up at the break of dawn, in the sweltering summer days in Africa and the Republic of the Marshall Islands conducting physical training with their peers at 6 a.m. and at 8 a.m. they would begin preparing for the English, mathematics and health classes they would teach.
After teaching classes for more than four hours, cadets had the opportunity to engage and interact with their students as well as the people of the country. Most individuals who have never traveled out of the country before may have many inquiries, what are some of the differences, what are some of the similarities,” but while residing in an unfamiliar territory, these cadets noticed many similarities rather than differences. Lewis was shocked at how technologically-driven Benin was. “In Benin, they had the IPhones, same movies were being shown at the movie theatres, and they had some of the same clothing styles,” said Lewis. Goins shared the same sentiment as it relates to electronics and entertainment. “They were watching the same movies that are shown in the U.S., some people may think that they are behind us, but they have all of the latest electronics and gadgets as the U.S.,” Goins exclaimed.
Not only did the cadets, educate and mentor students, but they wanted to make the most of their cultural experiences, by engaging in conversation and sharing the customs and culture of the U.S. Goins, a native of Sumter, S.C. was intrigued with one particular student, Sheng an Asian student, who was learning English in the University of the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ bridge program, a program where students could retain college credits before transitioning into college. “Sheng was a nice guy, but he was bullied by some of his peers that were in the bridge program. He would ask me for advice and he considered me as his brother. Each day, I would encourage him and let him know how I believed in his abilities,” said Goins. “I had a really huge impact on him. I would tell him not to worry about the other students, but to continue to strive and do great in school,” he continued. In the evening Goyner would share stories about the U.S. with one of his close students, Captain Musabiana, a captain in Rwanda’s military infantry. “I believe that Musabiana influenced me the most; he enlightened me on Rwanda’s culture and in return I would inform him of U.S. culture. He always wanted to know about America,” said Goyner.
In the U.S., Americans are seen as very fortunate, because of the wonderful opportunities we have to offer. While traveling abroad and meeting new people, Goyner and Lewis became more aware of the small things that they often overlooked. “In America we have street sweepers; they literally have street sweepers. It made me appreciate the little things more as the days progressed. This experience showed me that we are very fortunate in the U.S and we have to count our blessings,” said Goyner. Lewis shared the same sentiment. “In Africa people really appreciate what they have. They live in huts and they still have a smile on their face. It made me appreciate home.”
Members of SC State’s Bulldog Battalion stand out as leaders among their peers. Goyner, Lewis and Goins were well received while volunteering and serving others in a foreign land. They were honored with gifts for their service. Lewis served as a squad leader and received an African dress and African hat, which symbolized a chief of the village. “An African hat and African dress was seen as a representation of honor, I was deeply honored, when I received this gift because as an educator, I was guiding them to graduate on time,” said Lewis. Goins expressed his gratitude and a long lasting memory that he will never forget. “I received a mask and the Republic of the Marshall Islands flag from one of my students, Captain Musabiana, for being one of the most helpful educators during his tenure. After the ceremony, I gave him my Bulldog Patch and he wore it on his uniform. It was a very touching experience.”
Their acts of selfless service represent the very best of the Bulldog Battalion and are indicative of the student leaders that make up the Bulldog Battalion. These cadets have very bright futures as the next generation of Army leaders that will be produced by SC State University. Upon graduating from SC State University, Lewis and Goins would like to pursue careers in the U.S. Army as Engineers, while Goyner would like to pursue a career in the Air Defense Artillery.