Army War College seeks volunteers to serve as sponsors for international scholarship recipients

The Army War College at Carlisle Barracks needs approximately 20 community volunteers to sponsor the next class of international scholars. (US Army War College/Facebook)

CARLISLE, Pa. (Tribune News Service) – The Army War College at Carlisle Barracks needs approximately 20 community volunteers to sponsor the next class of international scholars.

Each year, senior military officers from other countries attend the War College to participate in the Resident Strategic Studies Program with their American counterparts.

Each sponsor is assigned an officer to help that person settle and adjust to life in the Carlisle area and the United States, said Army Col. Brian Henderson, director of International Fellows.

Sponsors may be called upon to answer questions, offer suggestions, and help the student navigate the paperwork and process needed to obtain a cell phone, vehicle, and/or apartment .

“They don’t live with you,” Henderson said. “They have their own funds. You would be a resource for them. To be a sponsor, you need time. The biggest piece is welcoming them as soon as they arrive.”

International scholars tend to arrive in the Carlisle area in two waves each spring and summer. The first group is made up of military officers who are enrolled in a preparatory course to work on their English skills so that they can succeed in a master’s level program.

“Almost all international scholars can speak English,” Henderson said. “They are highly educated – the best in their army – hand-picked to come to this school.”

This year, that first wave arrived in April. A few of those officers have a team of sponsors and could use a designated sponsor, Henderson said.

The next group of international scholarship recipients is expected at the end of June. Volunteers are needed to help the officers in this group. An information session for new sponsors is organized on or around June 21.

Volunteers interested in serving as sponsors can contact Henderson by phone at 717-245-3427 or by email at [email protected]

Each volunteer will be asked to complete a short questionnaire, Henderson said. This information will be used by program organizers to match sponsors with international scholars who have similar interests and demographics.

In addition to helping with logistics, each sponsor is encouraged to be a goodwill ambassador to their international scholar and family, Henderson said. “As they move forward, they build a relationship with the American way of life.”

It is not uncommon for a sponsor to accompany an international fellow to a local venue like the downtown Carlisle Farmer’s Market or invite the officer to partake in American traditions such as Thanksgiving dinner. International scholarship recipients often reciprocate by inviting sponsors to dinner or an outing.

“The sponsorship program allows these students to come here, to have peace of mind and a good year to focus on their studies at War College,” Henderson said. “This is a strategically important program.”

International Scholars offer U.S. students the perspective of a partner nation’s military. This allows American students to benefit from an international context in pursuing their master’s degree in strategic studies.

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