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Project GO Annual Meeting at JMU

Supporting ROTC students with intercultural skills.


by Nanfei Liu

 
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SUMMARY: Project GO is an initiative sponsored by the Defense Language and National Security Education Office. This year, JMU hosted over 95 participants from 25 institutions for the Project Go Annual Meeting. The JMU program emphasizes Swahili language learning and cross-cultural communication skills while building expertise regarding human-environment interactions (HEI) in East Africa.


James Madison University (JMU) hosted the Project Global Officer (Project GO) annual meeting from 24 – 26 April. Project GO is an initiative sponsored by the Defense Language and National Security Education Office (DLNSEO) and administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

Established in 2007, Project GO focuses on ROTC students to improve the language skills, regional expertise, and intercultural communication skills of future military officers through domestic and overseas language study and cultural immersion. Project GO currently offers 11 languages through 25 partner institutions, of which JMU is one. Since its inception, Project GO has provided approximately 6,500 fully-funded scholarships to ROTC students from all 50 states plus Puerto Rico.

This year, approximately 95 participants from all 25 Project GO institutions, IIE, and DLNSEO gathered at Hotel Madison to work and learn together to improve program impacts. Speakers included Dr. Clare Bugary, Deputy Director of DLNSEO; representatives from Army, Navy, and Air Force ROTC headquarters; and JMU faculty. Also, JMU President Jon Alger opened the meeting with a warm welcome at the Sunday evening reception.

JMU joined the Project GO community in the 2009-2010 academic year. The JMU program emphasizes Swahili language learning and cross-cultural communication skills while building expertise regarding human-environment interactions (HEI) in East Africa. The program attracts students from across the nation, and the JMU cohort typically represents students from 20+ universities. At JMU, this program is led by Project Director Jennifer Coffman and Project Coordinator Carol Lena Miller, both of the College of Integrated Science and Engineering. In addition, Dr. Jennifer Wiley from the Center for Global Engagement lends expertise across all Project GO programs for cultural learning assessment. The program receives strong support from JMU’s College of Integrated Science and Engineering, the Center for Global Engagement, and the Department of Military Science.

This year’s conference featured an alumni panel including three JMU summer program alumni: CPT Andrew Rotolo, Army; 2nd Lt Elijah Green, Marine Corps; and 2nd Lt Kierenne Eadie, Air Force. Rotolo recently returned from leading a Civil Affairs team in Kenya, and is an alumnus of Duke University, where he majored in International Comparative Studies. He stated, “Project GO provided me with fundamental cross-cultural skills at a relatively young age, and they have translated across multiple environments throughout my military career. During my recent deployment in Kenya, I was able to utilize my Swahili language proficiency, as well as the numerous local connections formed as a Project GO student, to further my mission as a Civil Affairs Team Commander. These invaluable experiences enhanced my team’s ability to strengthen security cooperation and facilitate greater interoperability with our Kenyan partners in the region.”

Eadie, a four-time Project GO Scholar who studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs, described her experience as follows: “[This program] has done more to shape me into a culturally sensitive and globally aware leader than any other training I have received. The program forced me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to expand my worldview and confront biases I didn't know I had. I have fallen in love with the Swahili language, and my experience with Project GO inspired me to apply for LEAP and work towards becoming a Foreign Area Officer.”

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Published: Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Last Updated: Monday, May 9, 2022

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