Story and photo by Heather Kline
The International Military Student Office held the annual “Know Your World” event Friday at Nutter Field House. In all, 41 nations from Afghanistan to Liberia and Montenegro to the Ukraine, were represented by their finest officers, who are enrolled in various military programs at the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence.
The event drew hundreds of people from the Fort Leonard Wood community, who came to support the installation’s partners and friends.
IMSO student officers prepared carefully constructed information displays, prepared national dishes for sampling and provided personal narratives to showcase their individual talents.
To many, this event was not only entertaining; it was an effective way for American families and military members to gain a deeper appreciation for rich cultures.
Amanda Koren, director of IMSO and the Field Studies Program, said, “Our International partners come from many regions around the globe to train here in the heartland of America at Fort Leonard Wood. While they are here training in different military professions, the FSP office hosts them in a variety of ways in an effort to share and illustrate the uniqueness of our American culture. This is the International Military Student’s opportunity to return the favor and share their own unique culture with our Fort Leonard Wood community.”
Capt. Sylonn Carr, of Trinidad and Tobago, prepared a robust curry chicken dish and provided an energetic presentation. “This event is integral for nations to come together with a common understanding,” he said. “This must continue (in my opinion).”
In addition to the cuisine and a plethora of information, many of the international hosts wore their military dress uniforms. Some took an extra step and wore traditional national clothing, including students representing Japan, the Republic of Ghana and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Capt. Alice Anoi from the Republic of Ghana, who was dressed in ornate national attire, said, “This means the world to me.”
Each presenter gave a variety of travel factoids for those open to hearing travel ideas.
Croation Army 1st Lt. Damir Grizelj said, “If you don’t travel, this is one way to explore unique opportunities, because I am trusted by my country of Croatia to come share my culture.”
Many of those in attendance experienced a unique forum that filled them with pride.
Second Lt. Gatis Slavens, from Latvia, said although he “was skeptical (of the event) at first,” he was “proud of his country” and happy to show others why he was so proud.
The intent of the annual gathering is to build a network of global friendships.
Maj. Carlin Tawiah-Martins, also from the Republic of Ghana, expressed his appreciation for the event and all who took time to attend.
“It is fascinating and humbling to see all of the Americans who make us feel welcome,” he said.