Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Midshipmen Encounter Southeast Asia

By MC2 Nathan Wilkes

Three U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) midshipmen shared their perspectives and recollections on living, studying, and traveling in one of the world's most diverse and fascinating regions, Southeast Asia, during a Bilden Asia Pacific Forum in Sampson Hall, Mar. 11.

Midshipman 1st Class Chris Adsit, Midshipman 2nd Class Sean O’Donnell, and Midshipman 2nd Class Anthony Malatesta, are part of USNA’s first group of midshipmen pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors to study abroad at Singapore’s Nanyang Technical University and participate in a solar energy initiative in the Philippines.

“I learned a lot about understanding different cultures, especially from a development stand-point, and about the gaps in communication that exist between the people that lend aid and the people receiving it,” said Adsit. “Adapting to a new culture and learning new things while trying to overcome cultural barriers was very valuable, interesting, and definitely a great take away as I prepare to hit the Fleet.”

While at the university, the midshipmen continued their STEM education, taking engineering and math classes alongside their Singaporean peers. Outside of the classroom, they had the chance to explore and immerse themselves in the culture and diversity that Singapore has to offer.

During the presentation, Adsit, O’Donnell, and Malatesta shared their stories and photos from their time in the Philippines and Singapore.

“Being in Singapore, I saw the importance of maintaining strong foreign relationships and how strategic the Straits of Malacca are,” said O’Donnell. “I know all of us will have some interaction with that in the future so it was great to get an experience like that.”

The Naval Academy has a number of semester study abroad opportunities available to midshipmen interested in foreign language and culture, regardless of major. These enrichment programs work to develop the midshipmen into adaptable, effective, and proficient leaders who understand and appreciate global and cross-cultural dynamics. With the addition of the new STEM major programs, USNA midshipmen have the opportunity to travel to and study in more countries than ever before.

“It’s hard to understand how different societies have different priorities and ways of thinking without experiencing it firsthand,” said Malatesta. “We are so fortunate to attend an institution that gives us the opportunity to travel abroad, adapt to new cultures, and learn the lessons that the world has to offer.

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