News>AWC international culture event celebrates diversity, strengthens bonds
The wives of Japanese international students at Air University’s Air War College prepare cups of green tea to serve to visitors at their booth during the AWC International Culture Festival, held at Maxwell Air Force Base, April 12, 2014. The festival brings the international fellows from 42 different nations studying at the AWC, together to share their unique cultural heritage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Brook)
Group Capt. Clive Blount, right, and his family share tea with representatives of the United Arab Emirates at their booth during the AWC International Culture Festival, held at Maxwell Air Force Base, April 12, 2014. The UAE students and their friends and families replicated their traditional customs for their American and international peers in order to share their cultural heritage during the festival. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Brook)
by Staff Sgt. Gregory Brook
42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
4/15/2014 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- International officers attending Air University's Air War College held an International Culture Festival celebrating the cultural heritage of students from 42 different nations April 12.
"In today's complex environment, building partnerships is fundamental to achieving mission success," said Maj. Gen. Brian Bishop, Carl A. Spaatz Center for Officer
Education commander and AWC commandant, "Events such as these bring people and cultures together, enhancing learning and understanding. Understanding other cultures and becoming more familiar with one another benefits national and global security."
The international students at AWC hold the festival annually to show appreciation for the hospitality they receive while assigned to Maxwell and to share their culture. This year, they shared their cultural heritage with more than 1,500 American classmates and their families and friends inside a former maintenance hangar. The hangar, once filled with airplanes, was filled with a number of international flags, the smell of spices and sounds of laughter between nations.
"I've watched several countries that I thought could be very unfriendly with one another become fast friends here at Air War College," said Col. David Drichta, AWC 2014 class president. "It's really heartening to see those barriers come down quickly when you interact at that personal level. I think that's one of the opportunities that are given to us here. You don't have everything filtered through the past and the history. You can just get to know a person, and that's important."
The international fellows' president, Italian Air Force Col. Marco Lant added he believed the key to the event's success was the cooperation between all of the international officers.
"I think it's a unique scenario and a unique environment where everyone can really come together," Lant added."
The International Culture Festival was entirely put together by the international officers over the course of several days.
"It was a lot of work for our international brothers and sisters to plan this event," Drichta said. "We certainly appreciate their efforts in giving us this wonderful opportunity to share a little bit of their culture and get to know them just a little bit better."
The international officers wanted to thank their American peers and the Alabama Goodwill Ambassadors who helped ease their adjustment to American life over the past 10 months.
"We've been made to feel incredibly welcome while we've been in Montgomery and at Maxwell by the U.S., and this is the (international officers') chance to say 'thank you,'" said Group Capt. Clive Blount, a Royal Air Force instructor at AWC. "In the hope that in the years to come, when we are serving together and fighting alongside each other, we will remember events like this one and remember the partnerships we've made."
Many of the officers remain in contact with the friends they have made during their time at Maxwell, both from other nations and the U.S.
"Just getting to know one another is very special," Drichta said. "But when you know that this person has been hand-selected to come and take part in this program and share it amongst not just the U.S. but all of this world leadership that is here, it is truly humbling to be a part of that and to know that the future of the world and the security of our nations rest in these hands."
The international fellows selected to go to the AWC are often selected by their respective nations to take on leadership roles when they return home.
"It makes it easy to have a relationship so that when you are in that part of the world you can just walk in and have a person who is ready to talk to you," Drichta added.
Air University International Officer School maintains an International Honor Roll of more than 430 international military students from 89 nations who have attained leadership positions in their nations' militaries equivalent to the chief of staff.