USAFA Hosts International Exchange Week

Three RMC IV Years Participate in Cultural Exchange at Colorado Springs

By: (IV) Sarah Beare; (IV) David Bernatchez; IV) Matt Buxton

Recently IV David Bernatchez (24718), IV Sarah Beare (25002) and IV Matt Buxton (25010) travel to the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) for its annual International Exchange Week, joined by Capt Simon Garneau, 13 SC. This cultural exchange was dedicated to learning about how other countries operate, getting to know different cultures and most importantly, making military friends from military colleges and academies around the world.

Caption : The Canadian delegation with the famous USAFA Chapel in background.

We first rolled into Colorado Springs during a spring snowstorm late on Sunday and were surprised to find that Colorado Springs’ “mountain weather” was a more similar climate to Ontario than we had expected – it was time to roll out the gloves and ‘toques’. We started things early on Monday morning with tours of the USAFA campus, including their iconic chapel, aeronautical engineering facilities and their dorms. We capped off the evening at the cadet mess, chatting with the other internationals and watching NCAA sports.

Caption : Représentants du CMRC et de l’École de l’Air française à la réception officielle.

Tuesday began with more tours of the USAFA facilities, including the enviable sports centers fit for the over four thousand students they house. All three of us shadowed host cadets to class during the morning and participated in class discussions and even wrote a quiz on which Sarah and Dave achieved excellent results! Meanwhile, Matt attended an engineering class with his United States Naval Cadet host and attempted to decode the language of aircraft propulsion. In the afternoon, we sat in on one of the third year ‘Honour Briefings’ presented by a retired Colonel who offered advice on honourable conduct in military life after the academy. Tuesday night we attended a formal dinner at which we donned our 4s and were commended for having “the sharpest uniforms” of the international bunch.

Caption : David Bernatchez, leader of the “A-Team”, with his teamates from Finland, Germany, Italy, Australia and Denmark during the Leadership Reaction Course.

Wednesday, according to all three of us, was our favourite day of the trip. We first headed over to the USAFA airfield and took a look at the Academy gliders and learned about their flying and parachute teams. After a barbeque in the field, ‘Jack’s Valley’, we took a run at their version of our Leadership Potential Assessment Course (LPAC) in teams of mixed countries. Some of the tasks reflected those seen in Farnham, Quebec on our basic training and with that advantage the Canadians were found leading the groups through most of the obstacles. That night all the countries attended an International Fair where they showed off traditions and customs as well as handed out samples of their countries’ cuisine. We were unaware that we would be required to host a table, and therefore made due with a display of Canadian ‘monopoly’ money and informed the internationals of what makes up a great poutine in Canada.

Les deux dernières journées du voyage visaient à accroitre l’exposition à la société américaine en général par la visite de lieux civils et la participation à des activités à Colorado Springs et Denver. C’était la première fois que nous étions accueillis à un centre commercial avec un tapis rouge et un comité d’accueil. Jeudi, après un avant-midi de magasinage au Castle Rock Outlets, le groupe se rend à Denver, capitale du Colorado, pour une visite guidée de l’édifice parlementaire. Tous ont ainsi pu en apprendre davantage sur l’histoire particulière de l’état du Colorado et du développement de la région, en explorant des facettes comme l’importance du leadership féminin, de ses premières années jusqu’à aujourd’hui. La prochaine étape était un souper et une soirée de divertissement au Dave and Buster’s de Denver, où tous ont pu apprécier une soirée de détente à travers les centaines de jeux d’arcade proposés.

Caption : Sarah Beare with Australian Cadet Carrie Fettes ruining the owners of Dave and Buster’s

Pour la dernière journée, le groupe s’est déplacé au Garden of the Gods, un parc de Colorado Springs où les structures géologiques impressionnantes parsèment le terrain déjà particulier de l’état du Colorado. Une visite guidée à travers le parc a d’ailleurs permis d’en apprécier les détails. Après une courte pause à l’académie, les visiteurs repartaient pour le Sky Sox Stadium pour assister à un match de l’équipe de baseball locale. Bien qu’un match de hockey ait été beaucoup plus intéressant à regarder, l’ambiance qui régnait dans le stade en a certainement valu la chandelle, en plus du service offert dans la zone VIP au groupe d’étudiants internationaux. La victoire des locaux, en plus des feux d’artifice à même les limites du stade, ont bien clôturé la soirée.

Caption: Matt Buxton defying gravity at Garden of the Gods.

Bref, la semaine s’est avérée une opportunité en or pour en apprendre un peu plus sur l’US Air Force Academy, mais surtout pour faire des connaissances et tisser des liens avec des confrères aspirants-officiers venant de partout dans le monde. La visite est certainement l’une des meilleures, sinon la meilleure expérience que nous ayons eu la chance de vivre depuis notre entrée au CMRC.

 

Caption: International visitors with Sox the Fox at the baseball game.