Over the summer through Project Go, a national program offered to qualified ROTC students for fully-funded language education and study abroad opportunities, two students received unique cross-cultural experiences studying Arabic language and culture. CDT Hadessah Vandaveer, who traveled to Jordan, and CDT Elizabeth McClure, who completed a study at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
After landing in Jordon’s capital city Amman, Hadessah experienced a bit of a culture shock—even though the city is widely considered Westernized. She was surprised by the wide expanse of dry and desert landscape, the lack of public water sources and the busy and sometimes chaotic streets. The city came alive in the cooler nights, where Hadessah enjoyed the unique culture through restaurants, malls, and coffee shops.
“I enjoyed my family’s farms the most,” said Hadessah. “As I looked from a hilltop, I saw miles of olive trees. It was beautiful.” Hadessah spoke fondly of the food: traditional Lebanese dishes like munsaf, kousa mahshi, and Lebanese salad.
Project Go introduces challenges in learning the culture naturally and learning Arabic in a classroom setting. In Jordan, Hadessah was in class with the rest of the group five days a week, learning important vocabulary and grammar concepts to better immerse themselves in the culture.
Back in the States, Elizabeth McClure chose to experience Project GO in North Carolina as a way to build trusting relationships with her patients as a future Active Duty Army Nurse. In this role, nurses must have strong teamwork and adaptability skills—both of which were central to completing courses and engaging in activities during Project GO, in addition to learning a new language.
“I learned the language alongside music, religious practices, common food, popular drinks, dances, social events, and many more aspects of Arab culture to develop my cultural awareness,” said McClure.
Although the six-week program was a rigorous schedule of classroom work, self-study and studies with language partners, both students emphasized that it was an excellent challenge to improve mental toughness and strengthen character. Project GO stands as an excellent summer-study option for ROTC students to prepare them for their future service—wherever it might take them.