International military student sponsorship builds relationships

International military students and their in-class sponsors discuss cultural differences and similarities before the International Military Student Office presentation July 28 at the Benning Club. (Photo by Lindsay Marchello)

International military students and their in-class sponsors discuss cultural differences and similarities before the International Military Student Office presentation July 28 at the Benning Club. (Photo by Lindsay Marchello)

By Lindsay Marchello, Bayonet & Saber /

The International Military Student Office ensures that every international Soldier feels welcomed at Fort Benning through the Military Sponsor Program.

With this program, the international military students are provided with an in-class sponsor to help them understand the U.S. military training environment and get acclimated with American culture.

The responsibilities of an in-class sponsor include explaining U.S. military acronyms and phrases, as well as working with their student in completing leadership and military training in both a classroom and field environment.

“The purpose of the sponsorship program is for (the sponsors and students) to integrate into each others lives,” said Captain Will Israel, IMSO commander, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 81st Armor Regiment, 199th Brigade.

Israel explained that the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course cadre choose sponsors from volunteers in the class who have experience working with other countries, can speak a second language or are motivated to help.

Sponsorship isn’t just about work, as sponsors are also encouraged to befriend their student and discover shared interests.

“I’m not just his sponsor,” said Capt. John Wahman, an MCCC student, about Capt. Amir Assi from Lebanon. “I’m also his friend.”

“I want to tell the international students that you should take advantage of all the time you have here with your sponsor, because time passes by very fast,” said Capt. Julio Acuna, an MCCC student from Colombia. “Our sponsors are here to support all of the international students, not only in class, but outside class.”

Acuna said that he is sure he has a home here in America, just as his sponsor, Capt. Miguel Montalvo, an MCCC student, has a home in Colombia.

“These are the relationships that last a lifetime in an increasingly dangerous world,” said Israel.

During a luncheon and presentation on the sponsorship program with the IMSO, Col. David Fivecoat also stressed the importance of forming bonds with Soldiers from the international community.

“Since I commissioned in 1993, the world has become a lot more global and more interconnected,” said Fivecoat. “In an effort to speed the progress of building coalitions earlier and easier, the American Army has embraced exchange programs like the Advanced Leaders Course and the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course.”

Fivecoat challenged the international military students and their sponsors to make the most of their experience.

“For the international students, share your culture, your customs, your nation’s heroes, your history and your country’s way of fighting with your American partner,” said Fivecoat.

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