News>Air War College’s international fellows festival fosters cultural understanding
Air War College student Col. Masahiro Kuramoto, Japan, visits with children at his booth, which featured delicacies such as hand-wrapped sushi, sashimi and other traditional Japanese foods, at the AWC International Fellows Cultural Festival, held on Maxwell Air Force Base, March 23. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Stoltz)
Air War College student Lt. Col. Jarle Nergard, Norway, cuts meat for a patron at his booth at the AWC International Fellows Cultural Festival, held on Maxwell Air Force Base, March 23. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Stoltz)
Air War College student Lt. Col. Andrew Gilbert, Australia, offers kangaroo sausage to visitors at his booth at the AWC International Fellows Cultural Festival, held on Maxwell Air Force Base, March 23. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Stoltz)
by Lt. Col. Tricia York
Air War College Class of AY 2013
3/29/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Nearly 1,000 people enjoyed a sampling of international food and friendship at the Air War College's International Fellows Cultural Festival, held March 23 at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
The annual event featured native culture and food from 41 different countries, represented by the 44 international students attending Air War College this academic year. Students, staff, faculty and their families sampled dishes as diverse as kangaroo sausage from Australia, cous cous from Kuwait, desserts from Morocco, knafah from Jordan, and hand-rolled Japanese sushi. As they did so, they had the opportunity to learn more about other nations by examining photos, clothing, jewelry and other representative items.
"It's exciting to see leaders from so many nations literally breaking bread together, in an effort to build life-long friendships that contribute to international peace and stability," said Maj. Gen. Scott M. Hanson, commander and commandant of Air War College. "The many opportunities we have to interact with our international students is a prime reason the Air Force gave Air Education and Training Command the lead role in building international partnerships."
"As the world gets more collected and more globalized, we're always going to have to work together," said Air War College student Group Capt. Clive Blount, Royal Air Force, United Kingdom. Blount, along with Col. Enrico Pederzolli, from the Italian Air Force, were lead planners for the annual event.
"Partnership building is what it's all about," continued Blount. "This event is a way of breaking down barriers and getting to understand each other's culture."
Many international fellows who attend Air University courses later become senior leaders and decision makers after returning to their home country. Air University's International Officer School maintains an honor roll of more than 400 foreign military students from 89 countries who have risen to senior positions--including equivalents to the U.S. Air Force chief of staff.
"Maxwell Air Force Base has a unique opportunity to shape global relationships and we're very proud of that role," said Col. Trent Edwards, 42nd Air Base Wing commander. "We're especially grateful to our community partners from the Montgomery region, many of whom host our international guests and introduce them to the United States."
The lasting impact of these civilian "goodwill ambassadors" was recently noted by Gen. Shigeru Iwasaki, chief of the Joint Staff of the Japanese Self-Defense Force. During a visit back to Air University, the general recounted that his first stop was to see his former host family.
"For many of our students, this year might be the best opportunity they have to get to know their peers from other nations and exchange ideas about global security," said Hanson. "They get to be ambassadors for their country, and at the festival I was struck to observe the bonds of friendship being formed here."