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First Romanian cadet from partnership studies at UNG this semester

International cadets spring 2019
Two cadets from Poland, two from South Africa and one from Romania are studying at UNG in spring 2019. From left, they are Jakub Pochodaj, Lukasz Makowski, Tembakazi Swartbooi, Itumeleng Chokoe, and Paul Nicolaiev.

Five international cadets are spending the spring 2019 semester at the University of North Georgia (UNG), including the first from Romania's Nicolae Balcescu Land Forces Academy (NBLFA). UNG signed a partnership agreement with NBLFA in summer 2018.

Paul Nicolaiev, the Romanian cadet at UNG, said the education system in the United States interests him; UNG students choose their field of study, while his school selects the area of study for its cadets. One of Nicolaiev's goals was to gain experience with cadets from a different culture.

"I wanted to come here because I know that over here there is a lot of diversity in colleges," Nicolaiev said. "This could be beneficial for my career in the future."

Retired Army Sgt. Maj. Terry Baumann, international and military program coordinator at UNG, said having Nicolaiev on campus helps UNG cadets, as well.

"UNG cadets are learning more about Romania," Baumann said. "They ask questions, which allows us to recruit easier because they can ask him questions."

Two cadets each from South Africa's Stellenbosch University and Poland's General Tadeusz Kościuszko Military University of Land Forces (MULF) are also at UNG this spring. UNG cadets are spending the semester at NBLFA, Stellenbosch and MULF.

In addition to immersion in daily cadet life at UNG, the international cadets also experience American culture. The group trekked to New York and Washington, D.C., on spring break to visit historical sites and their embassies and watch a New York Knicks basketball game. During their time in Georgia, they will visit Rangers in Action demonstration at Fort Benning, Georgia, and attend an Atlanta Braves baseball game.

MULF cadet Lukasz Makowski pointed to UNG students' friendly and helpful demeanor. But what impressed him the most was how UNG cadets lead their own activities.

"Here, cadets take care of everything. I'm surprised the university puts so much trust in them. They trust they're going to make it good," Makowski said, and referenced the UNG Cadet Code of Conduct. "They don't lie. They don't cheat. Everything's running smoothly."

Itumeleng Chokoe, a cadet from Stellenbosch, said he was excited to form relationships with U.S., Polish and Romanian cadets that could prove beneficial in the future. Baumann echoed that point.

"The U.S. military never goes anywhere without a coalition," Baumann said. "Our cadets may work with these international cadets in the future."

Some of the international cadets have taken part in club sports on campus. Chokoe joined the club soccer team, while MULF's Jakub Pochodaj is part of the volleyball club and Stellenbosch's Tembakazi Swartbooi has joined the basketball club team.

Swartbooi has enjoyed being around civilian students at UNG and has learned from the experience.

"It's expanded my knowledge," she said. "It's changed how I see things."

In addition to the group of cadets, a few international faculty have been at UNG this semester.

Dr. Gabriel Lopez, a colonel working at Argentina's University of Defense, is researching modeling and simulation with Ash Mady, department head of computer science and information systems at UNG. And Dr. Romana Oancea from NBLFA is researching offensive and defensive cyber operations education with Dr. Bryson Payne, UNG professor of computer science and director of UNG's Center for Cyber Operations Education.

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