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ROTC Student Returns from Two-month Deployment in Paraguay

Jemel at Campo Grande

Cadets Michael Partelow (University of Miami), Emilio Baker (Western Michigan University), Jake Boyle (Pennsylvania State University) and Jemel Sessoms (Robert Morris University) after teaching an English verbal class at Campo Grande, Paraguay.

RMU junior Jemel Sessoms recently returned from a two-month trip to Paraguay as part of his Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. Cadets enrolled in ROTC have the opportunity to go abroad through the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) program.

To be eligible for CULP, cadets must be at least a Level 3 in military science training, which is measured by the amount of years they have been enrolled in ROTC. Additionally, they must meet the required GPA and pass the Army Physical Fitness Test.

Once accepted into the CULP program, one can chose to study in South America, Africa or the Middle East. Jemel chose South America because he loves the continent and its many cultures.

“I’ve wanted to explore and learn more about South America since high school,” says Jemel, where he studied Spanish for three years. “I wanted to put my Spanish to the test and experience the Latin American culture.”

And that’s exactly what he did. Jemel spent most of his time teaching English to the Paraguayan army and cadets who were enrolled in their ROTC program, speaking Guarani, the native language.

But his students were not the only ones who learned something while he was in Paraguay. Jemel says the trip as an eye-opener, and one that taught him many life lessons.

“You can sit here and watch CNN to see what goes on in other countries,” says Jemel, “but it’s different actually being in a Third World country and experiencing it first-hand. Even if they have nothing, they’ll help anyone they can. It was very encouraging to see.”

Jemel will graduate in next spring with a bachelor’s degree in communication and be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant Officer. He plans on enrolling in Robert Morris’ 5-year integrated program to pursue his master’s degree.

Written by Alan Buehler


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