UW–Madison joins initiative to provide language instruction for ROTC cadets

The University of Wisconsin–Madison has joined more than 25 other universities nationwide in an effort to help address the U.S. military’s need for critical language specialists who understand foreign cultures and can communicate in regions of strategic and economic importance.

UW–Madison recently was awarded nearly $490,000 through August 31, 2013 for Project GO (Global Officers), an initiative to help cadets and midshipmen in Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) learn critical languages and study abroad. Project GO is sponsored by the Defense Language and National Security Office, an organization within the U.S. Department of Defense.

UW–Madison is an international leader in language education and research, offering instruction in dozens of modern and ancient languages. In addition to traditional academic programs, opportunities for language learning here include intensive summer institutes and a wide range of study abroad programs.

UW–Madison also is among the few U.S. universities that host Army, Navy and Air Force ROTC programs, which offer UW students opportunities to earn a commission as an officer in any of the three armed services.

The Project GO funding provides fellowships for ROTC cadets from all branches of service to enroll this academic year and next summer in domestic and study abroad programs in Arabic, Hindi-Urdu, Turkish, and Russian. UW–Madison offers each of these languages during the summer as an intensive course.

“We hope to recruit a minimum of 30 cadets from around the country to study at least one year of one of these languages through either academic-year study, summer intensive study or study abroad,” says Laura Hammond, the program coordinator on campus.

“The Department of Defense, along with ROTC, has embarked on a mission to make our officers more culturally diverse,” says Lt. Col. Todd Berge, commander of Air Force ROTC Detachment 925 at UW–Madison. “This, of course, includes a focus on foreign languages. Project GO has been an integral part of this push for an increased proficiency of foreign language among the officer corps.”

Berge adds, “I am very excited about the UW getting Project GO, as it will give our students here a chance to participate without having to go to a different university. It also allows other ROTC cadets to come here to see the great opportunities the UW has to offer.”

In addition to helping address a national need, ROTC cadets can earn incentive pay for gaining proficiency in a critical language.

Cadets who enroll in Project GO at UW–Madison will join other students in existing programs and classes. “This will help create a broader, more diverse classroom,” Hammond says.

In addition, UW–Madison has received funding to host the assessment coordinator for the entire Project GO program.

For more information, visit the Project GO at UW-Madison website, or contact Laura Hammond at ljhammond@southasia.wisc.edu or 608-265-4304.

Also, visit the national Project GO website.

– by Kerry G. Hill

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