News: SMA welcomes international USASMA students to his home
Story by Sgt. Candice Harrison
FORT MYER, Va. - Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III and his wife, Jeanne, hosted the first reception dinner for the international students of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, at their home here, May 1, 2013.
The international students participate in Field Studies Program trips, allowing them to become acquainted with the different levels of U.S. government as well as cultural and historical aspects of U.S. society.
“We always enjoy the time we get to spend with the international students and their families,” said Chandler who previously served as the commandant of USASMA. “Just talk to them and understand a little bit about their culture and where they are from and their life experience. It kind of shows that we are all … about the same things. You want to have a great life for your family, raise your children and be a responsible member of society.”
While the reception was an opportunity for the international soldiers to meet senior NCOs from the Washington area, developing long-term relationships and partnerships between armies is another welcome outcome.
“If you look at the diverse background of the students that have attended the Sergeants Major Academy over the last couple of decades, then you understand the shared experience of a year in the United States,” said Chandler of the importance of these growing relationships. “Working with people who are your peers but maybe from different locations and countries will help us to understand what we need to do with our partners into the future.”
Also in attendance was Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. John F. Campbell. He spent time talking with the international students and other attendees.
“The vice chief of staff … interacted with all the international students, as I noticed, and exchanged experiences,” said Master Sgt. Sasha Toshevski, army of the Republic of Macedonia. “He is also special forces, like me. He is awesome. He treated us like a brother.”
Chandler and Campbell separately made their rounds, ensuring they spoke to every international student at the reception. It was also an opportunity for the students to speak with some of their U.S. counterparts.
“It was a great experience meeting General Campbell,” said Sgt. Maj. of Kosovo Genc Metaj, Kosovo Security Forces. “It was a great opportunity to share some thoughts with (top Army) leaders.”
At the home, dinner was served while an Army violinist provided an ambiance of comfortable sophistication.
Chandler and his wife provided an environment for the international students which allowed them to comfortably enjoy themselves while mingling with the other attendees. Chandler is very aware of the sacrifices these international students make coming to the U.S. for the more than 10-month course.
“It takes a lot of courage, I think we forget about that sometimes,” sympathized Chandler. “To pick up and leave your country for a year and go someplace (where it’s difficult to stay connected). To go from Jordan to El Paso, Texas, with your family. Maybe not being as culturally aware as you want to, the language challenges, that takes a great deal of personal courage to do that, and you have to admire it.”
Chandler hopes that this reception can be repeated annually by his successors for the USASMA international students while they are visiting the nation’s capital. He hopes these gatherings provide the international students with another opportunity to grow relationships and partnerships with the U.S. Army.
“As soldiers, for all soldiers, whether you’re from Colombia or the United States or some other place around the world, we all have a job to be a soldier,” said Chandler. “That shared knowledge … means that we should be able to build our teams and be aware of what’s going on so that we can be successful in whatever mission we are given.”
Date Posted:05.02.2013 19:02
Location:FORT MYER, VA, US
Hometown:ARLINGTON, VA, US
Hometown:EL PASO, TX, US
Hometown:FORT BLISS, TX, US
Hometown:FORT BLISS, NM, US
Hometown:FORT MYER, VA, US
Hometown:WASHINGTON CITY, DC, US