This is Janice (Keith’s wife) continuing on about my trip to Burkina Faso, Africa.
Last week I talked about the harmonic convergence of worlds. I described my journey back into the Dark Continent—specifically Burkina Faso. I went with a group of 22 Army ROTC cadets and two cadre (captains). If you want more details about the setting, see last week’s article.
This week I will focus on our mission and other experiences that formed a cohesion between two groups—a symbiotic community of global villages. Our mission in Burkina Faso was two-fold—to give American ROTC cadets a cultural understanding of Burkina Faso and to give them an opportunity to teach English to the Burkinabe cadets.
During the morning hours, I prepared my English lessons for the afternoon sessions. Our U.S. Army cadets and captains were up by 4:30 a.m. training alongside of their Burkinabe cadet counterparts. For 18 days, our U.S. Army cadets and Burkina Faso cadets trained together, stayed in the same barracks, and ate all the same meals. They not only trained alongside of each other, but our cadets also trained them how to speak English. Remember, I was the Director of Instruction. Our cadets worked more one on one with them. While they taught English, they learned some French themselves. I had given our cadets some useful French and Bambara phrases. Unfortunately, Bambara was only understood by few since most cadets spoke the Moore language—they all understood French.
During training they would often run four miles—one mile through town and three miles through the bush. Imagine—66 ROTC cadets (Burkinabe and American) running and encouraging each other. As one of our captains said—“The only thing these guys have in common is they want to serve their country as officers. They are from two different worlds, but they work as one unit.” Other training activities they did together included mountain climbing, shooting AK-47s, Commando training, peace-keeping operations, and other activities. Our U.S. ROTC cadets had a great opportunity to be all that they could be—Remember the popular saying “Be all that you can be—join the Army”? Are we being all that we can be as Christians? The Holy Spirit enables us to be all that we can be in this life on earth. Ephesians 5:18 encourages us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. As we are living Spirit-filled lives, we are reaching out to those around us as well as those around the world. As a whole, I feel as though the American cadets learned as much as the Burkinabe cadets—-it was a fair trade. Through this experience, they have enhanced the mutual respect for the other as well as lifetime friendships—a harmonic convergence of world’s leading to a symbiotic community of global villages. As far as what I learned…that sounds like a great way to start next week’s article.