Civil-Mil Learning Experiences in South Africa by Ana Karen Manriquez Prado

by tuftsigl
Jul 18

As the only civilian on this civil-military trip, my experiences this last week have led to shifts in perspectives and an appreciation of a military lingo that I'm still struggling to understand. I’ve learned more about the army and navy academies in the last few days, than I have in my 20 years of life. However, this trip has led to understandings far beyond the military system and traditions. I’ve been able to reflect on the plethora of leadership lessons and military stories that, although sometimes seem farfetched, are always filled with wisdom and exuberance. The group’s atmosphere radiates comradery and loyalty not only to one another, but to the service and commitment they’ve embarked on at such a young age. Those values are some that should be a part of all our daily lives.

Though it can be difficult to keep up with some topics of conversation, one thing that is never lost in translation is the motivation to learn and be challenged. I was intimidated when I first learned that I was the only civilian embarking on this trip, however, I now see that this is going to be one of the most valuable experiences I will have in my life, not only because of the country I am able to explore and learn about, but also because of those I’m traveling with. South Africa was the last place I thought I would find myself in. Navy midshipmen and military cadets are the last people I thought I would travel with, but the knowledge I’ve gained on this trip has been equally as surprising and elating. Though we come from different fields and backgrounds, all seven of us have goals and aspirations for ourselves, one another, and our world. I hope that my peers on this trip are able to learn as much from me as I have from them and that we can motivate one another to put all of those leadership lessons into action so that we too have some far-fetched stories to tell one day.

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