Another Powerful Year: U.S. West Point Cadets Share Their Experience Interning With the Kroc IPJ’s Women Waging Peace Members
Monday, December 16, 2019
begin quoteThis [internship] provided me the opportunity to understand the significance of religion in the region and how standard behavior within a religion changes drastically on the region.
Each year the United States West Point Academy partners with the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice (IPJ) to place three of its cadets in field internships with the Institute's Women Waging Peace (WWP) network. The purpose of this program is to provide cadets with opportunities to learn from and with local women leaders in post-conflict societies on a variety of projects including conflict resolution, peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, political and economic development.
West Point has been doing this program with the WWP network for over 10 years. This program has proven to help both cadets and WWP members in the following ways:
- Provide an empathetic lens to how both groups are building safer environments;
- Expose WWP members and cadets to different organizational cultures and approaches to peacebuilding; and,
- Prepare cadets for the leadership challenges that they will face in the future within their military careers.
This past summer the following three cadets completed their internships with our WWP members, in these areas:
CDT Leighton McAlpin
- Location: Bosnia
- Local WWP Host: Amna Popovac
- Project: The cadet interned at Amna’s NGOs. She worked on various projects including: lecturing on entrepreneurship and local leadership, and raising awareness on EU integration process.
CDT Cheyenne Quilter
- Location: Nepal
- Local WWP Host: Radha Paudel
- Project: The cadet interned at the Radha Paudel Foundation. She helped with outreach by giving presentations to children at schools and orphanages about the importance of dignified menstruation and utilized the confidence books that she created for this internship to help teach them how to find their confidence to speak up against women’s rights restrictions.
CDT Chloe DeWees
- Location: Uganda
- Local WWP Host: Joyce Asekenye
- Project: The cadet interned in the Teso Karamoja Women Initiative for Peace, and focused on peacebuilding, conflict management/resolution and reconciliation projects.
There were many powerful takeaways from this year’s internship. Empathy, cultural fluidity and responsiveness were all built between both groups. The knowledge and learnings will greatly impact these cadets' future work within the military and as one cadet shared:
“The cultural triad that exists in Bosnia opened my eyes to the decision-making challenges that governmental and military professionals make daily while working abroad. As a future military professional, I must be cognizant of my operational area, and to understanding the differences between stereotypes and reality. This [internship] provided me the opportunity to understand the significance of religion in the region and how standard behavior within a religion changes drastically on the region. In the future, I need to ensure that I am culturally aware of the area I am operating in.”
If you would like to learn more about this program and how to support its efforts in building stronger bridges between future U.S. Military leaders and local women peacebuilders, please contact:
Program Officer for Women, Peace and Security Programs