VFMAC Embraces Students from Across the Globe.
Col John C. Church, Jr., USMCR (Ret.)
International Student Body Helps Build the Leaders of Tomorrow.
Soon, our cadets from Valley Forge Military Academy & College (VFMAC) head home from wonderful Wayne on the Main Line. As they, and the amazing faculty and staff who comprise our Forge Family, near this much deserved and needed break, I reflect upon the uniqueness of our 90th Corps of Cadets, the diversity of its make-up and why that matters so much in today’s globalized and dynamic world.
More and more, our leaders in the military, politics and business remind us of the need to understand others better, why that is so important and how doing so can make the world a better and safer place. Last spring, our Academy graduation speaker, LTG H. R. McMaster, USA, the National Security Advisor and a proud Academy graduate, challenged the cadets and explained to them and our guests that our nation now needs empathetic leaders who truly and deeply understand our international partners.
Recently, the Institute of International Education, a nonprofit educational group, reported the flow of new international students entering U.S. colleges and universities shrank last year and has continued to decline this fall on many campuses. According to Allan E. Goodman, the Institute’s president and chief executive, the total foreign enrollment at U.S. institutions — counting continuing students as well as new ones — reached a record high of 1.08 million in 2016 but is now facing a downward trend.
Here at VFMAC, we enjoy a strong history of welcoming international cadets at both our College and at our Academy. Twenty-three percent of our Academy cadets and six percent of our College students are from other nations. All of us here are fully committed to increasing that percentage. I firmly support these efforts as an educational leader but also because of my own personal military experiences.
The cadet-led corps works for everyone – no matter their origin, nationality, race, religion or gender.
Having served more than three decades in defense of our nation, I can attest that my military missions required me to quickly form strong professional alliances with other members of the armed forces of other nations. In Somalia, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in Kosovo, in Iraq, in Liberia and in Afghanistan, we worked and lived with soldiers from other nations. My experiences are very similar to any warrior of my generation.
VFMAC has a rich history of cadets traveling from all over the world to attend our Academy and College and then returning to their homeland where they emerge most successful in various endeavors. In the course of one day here at the Forge, it is not uncommon that I would speak to a cadet from Nigeria or Russia or China or South Korea or Vietnam or Mongolia. Walking around our campus is sometimes akin to a mini United Nations visit.
So, here at VFMAC, we honor the past. We have a long history of welcoming others from around the world. We challenge and cherish them in the same manner whether they are from Pennsylvania or Peru. The cadet-led corps works for everyone – no matter their origin, nationality, race, religion or gender. Everyone is a member of the Corps – and that is a good thing. At 5:45 a.m. the cadet from Saudi Arabia running alongside the one from Detroit doesn’t really care too much about politics or business or the military – they both just want to get the job done.
We are blessed and thankful for this time of year and it gives us all a little more hope during the holidays when we reflect that this next generation of leaders – part of our Forge Family – are getting the tools and teaching they need to make a better world.