A Look at Cadets Who Studied or Traveled Abroad
A Conversation with Cadet Sylvi Imrem ’24, USMA Persian Language Major with a Cyber Engineering Track
Please describe your AIAD experience.
In the summer of 2022, after my Yearling year, I spent a month living and learning in Lucknow, India through the Department of Foreign Languages (DFL) Persian Section. During this month, I lived with a host family, attended individual classes exclusively taught in Persian, and visited significant historic and religious sites in Lucknow and Delhi. This was both extremely challenging and rewarding. I did not share a language with my host family (they spoke Arabic and Urdu; I speak English, Persian, and Spanish), yet I was able to form bonds with my host family through alternative forms of communication. My classes were conducted individually which provided me an opportunity for extreme language development over the course of 80 plus hours of instruction. Other parts of this experience that stick out in my mind are that, at this time in India, the weather reached above 120 degrees Fahrenheit daily, and I got to explore local markets and use local methods of transportation like rickshaws.
How did the experience enhance or complement the academic or military instruction at West Point?
This experience enhanced my academic instruction at West Point by providing me an extra semester worth of Persian language training in a culturally relevant environment.
How do you think participating in your AIAD developed you as a leader?
This experience made me a better leader by forcing me out of my comfort zone for an entire month and offering me a glimpse into another culture. This developed empathy and mental toughness that I will use as a leader and officer.
How do you think participating in this AIAD will impact your future as a West Point graduate?
This AIAD and other opportunities to study abroad provided by West Point have given me a desire to not only see the world, but understand all of it better through the individuals I meet to the buildings I work in. I know wherever my future as a West Point graduate takes me, I will seek first to understand, and then to interact.
What would you want to say to donors who make Margin of Excellence opportunities possible?
I was fortunate to spend the first semester of Cow year abroad in Yerevan, Armenia. I am also a four-year member of the Women’s Army Rugby Team, which is my family here at West Point. First and foremost, I want to thank the donors who have made all these incredible opportunities possible for me. In my time at West Point, I have developed friendships and relationships that will last the rest of my life. West Point has also allowed me to develop my leadership skills, and learn so much about myself, and the opportunities provided by the Margin of Excellence have been integral in facilitating this development.
Anderson Normandy Staff Ride with Cadet Lauren Coleman ’25
The annual Anderson Normandy Staff Ride is made possible by a generous endowment from Lee Anderson ’61 and his wife, Penny. Using the U.S. Army’s operations order for the invasion, cadets gain a better understanding of the sequencing of troop movements, supplies, and objectives not only for D-Day itself, but the subsequent days following.
“Visiting Hillman Battery, the German strongpoint between Sword Beach and Caen, was incredible. Seeing firsthand how intricate and thoughtfully designed this bunker was changed my perspective on the complexity of the operation. Our group got the opportunity to tour inside the bunker and to walk through the spaces that the German forces occupied for months which was fascinating. Seeing the various machine gun slits, dummy grenade ports, and the lack of cover and concealment gave me a new appreciation for the bravery of the Allied forces to attack Hillman Battery.
Getting the chance to pay respect to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the fight for freedom at the Bayeux Cemetery and the American Cemetery at Coleville was incredibly impactful. This Staff Ride showed me the importance of strategic leadership through the eyes of General Eisenhower and how the acts of individual soldiers changed the course of the war. Standing at Pointe du Hoc looking down the cliffs and imagining the courage the Rangers had to attack this objective was incredible. Being on the ground where they stood, looking at the landscape marked by naval ship bombardment, made history come alive.
The History Department Staff Ride has been an experience I have looked forward to and will continue to reflect upon for months. Thank you for giving me and my fellow cadets this opportunity.”— CDT Lauren Coleman ’25
Jordan Semester Abroad with Cadet Nial Murphy ’24
“I had the pleasure of studying Arabic in Amman, Jordan with two other fellow cadets. This life-changing experience opened my eyes to a culture very different from our own. This allowed me to gain a broader perspective of another nation’s culture, military, and social customs among many other things. I believe this exposure and immersion not only greatly advanced my fluency in Arabic, but also helped me develop key interpersonal skills that will be important to lead effectively as an officer in the Army. Additionally, gaining proficiency in the language and culture of Jordan will allow me to continuously build connections with others, in both the military and civilian world. During Cadet Troop Leader Training at Fort Sill, I was able to use some of these skills. In this short three weeks, I encountered several officers from different Arab countries. Using the language and telling them of my studies in Jordan made them smile and seem more comfortable. It is little interactions like these that are vital to cooperation between the United States and other nations’ militaries, and in this case, were only made possible by my experience in Jordan. My semester abroad was my favorite part of my cadet experience thus far and I am incredibly grateful for the donors that made this experience possible. Thank you all for your generous contributions; your impact on the development of cadets has been indelible.”— CDT Nial Murphy ’24