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Olmsted grant will fund overseas experiences for UNG cadets

The University of North Georgia (UNG) has received a $10,000 grant from the national Olmsted Foundation to fund overseas travel and cultural immersion opportunities for commissioning cadets.

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A new grant from the Olmsted Foundation will fund overseas experiences like a defense economics course at the University of Defence in Brno, Czech Republic, attended recently by cadets Darian Metz, left, and Bradley Shaver.

"We're committed to providing our contracted cadets with educational opportunities to develop competency in cultural, joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and global environments," said Keith Antonia, associate vice president for military programs at UNG. "We're preparing them to be agile, adaptive, innovative leaders of character able to succeed in a complex world so that they are prepared to lead as soon as they commission."

At UNG, Army ROTC cadets who are contracted to commission as active duty, Reserve or National Guard officers may participate. Although not required, preference will be given to cadets who are majoring in international affairs or a strategic foreign language. UNG expects to begin awarding funds in 2017.

Opportunities for UNG cadets funded by the grant may include such events as foreign defense academies' international weeks; the annual International Military Academic Forum (iMAF) in Europe; or the Model UN Conference. These types of trips allow UNG cadets the opportunity to expand their global knowledge and forge friendships that could turn into future alliances.

UNG cadets Darian Metz and Bradley Shaver recently attended a defense economics course at the University of Defence in Brno, Czech Republic, that included cadets from France, Hungary, Romania, and the Czech Republic.

"The course not only offered valuable insight of defense economics, but also allowed cadets to interact with counterparts from other nations," Shaver said. "The course mainly focused on comparing the defense spending of NATO nations and how it affects the ever-changing world. At the end of the course, the cadets were to present a defense budget analysis of a selected country."

The highly sought-after Olmsted undergraduate opportunity gives many future military officers their first overseas experience. These trips, typically one to three weeks in length, occur in non-English speaking countries with exposure to those countries' national perspectives, and focus on the role of U.S. policy in that region.

The Olmsted Foundation averages more than 100 of these short-term immersion trips per year, and its undergraduate program provides opportunities to military students from around the nation.

Since 1959, the Olmsted Foundation's 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 created through a $40 million endowment from Gen. George Olmsted, an Army major general who served with distinction in World War II and went on to become a philanthropist and a successful businessman in the insurance and banking industries.

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