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NORTHFIELD, Vt. — Norwich University announced a $20,000 grant from the George and Carol Olmsted Foundation to support the John and Mary Frances Patton Peace and War Center’s 2022 Overseas Cultural Immersion Trip.

Eleven students will travel this year to Kyrgyzstan from May 4 to May 15.

This is the 18th year that Norwich has received Olmsted Foundation support for students to travel abroad. Since 2005, about 78 students have benefited from this grant and have traveled to Tanzania, North Macedonia, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Croatia, Senegal, El Salvador, Chile, Turkey, Slovenia, Georgia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia Herzegovina, Israel and the Balkans.

“The Olmsted Foundation is proud to sponsor these broadening opportunities for cadets at Norwich,” said Olmsted Foundation Executive Vice President Mark Elfendahl, a retired U.S. Army colonel. “The foreign exposure they receive will make them better officers and leaders in their respective services, and Norwich does such a terrific job planning and executing these trips.”

This year’s trip will be the first since the onset of the pandemic, which caused the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 trips.

This grant supports Norwich students who are on a commissioning track as active-duty officers in the U.S. armed forces to travel abroad in the late spring/summer at no charge to speak to the people and visit the places that comprise a relevant international conflict. Study abroad promotes Norwich’s mission of educating future officers in cultural agility and global perspective and understanding. The selected cadets plan everything about the trip — booking flights, plotting itineraries and coordinating meals in the country they are visiting.

This year’s trip will be the first since the onset of the pandemic, which caused the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 trips. In 2019, students traveled across six Balkan nations to understand NATO’s role in the region. Had the 2020 trip taken place, students would have traveled to Egypt.

By experiencing a new culture and analyzing the NATO from diverse viewpoints, students gained firsthand experience to prepare for future military careers.

“This opportunity will give me the ability to practice important cross-cultural comprehension skills that all military officers need to have,” said Cooper Otis, a junior from Hopkinton, New Hampshire, who is serving as the Olmsted logistics officer.

“This program also allows for cadets and candidates of the same mindset to explore cultural concepts and further both understanding and education on these topics together,” added Otis, who’s majoring in international studies and minoring in French and leadership.

The Olmsted Foundation provides annual grants to four Service Academies and five Senior Military Colleges for these trips, which often last about three weeks and provide the undergraduates with their first exposure to a foreign culture. The Olmsted Foundation’s emphasis on global immersion aligns with Norwich University’s mission to provide students with an education that is “American in character and global in perspective.”

Since 1959, the Olmsted Scholar Program has challenged young military officers to learn a foreign language and pursue graduate studies in that language at a foreign university. The Olmsted Foundation was established by George H. Olmsted, a U.S. Army major general who served with distinction in World War II and later became a philanthropist and a successful businessman in insurance and banking.

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About Norwich University
Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in baccalaureate and graduate degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by U.S Army Capt. Alden Partridge is the United States’ oldest private military college. Norwich is one of our nation's six Senior Military Colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). www.norwich.edu

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