Since its founding, the Friendship Fund has provided dozens of West Point cadets with a cultural immersion experience that would be hard to find anywhere else. Returning cadets almost always say that their trip was a life-changing experience.
“The entire experience was unbelievably beneficial as a whole, both for the cadets to enhance our language-speaking ability at an individual level and also to build ongoing relationships with several local Chinese schools. Our schedule allowed us enough time to balance schoolwork and classes with various cultural activities and school visits. My three-week experience in China is one that I will never forget and will continue to shape my understanding of the Chinese people and their culture. I am now even more interested in China as an important region in the world.”
– Second Lieutenant, USMA Class of 2015
“ As a Cadet at USMA, one’s experiences can very easily be limited to the Army culture. While this makes for effective soldiers, such a perspective does not lend itself to the development of leaders able to conduct boots on the ground diplomacy. Overall, a Cadet embarking upon one of the FF’s experiences will return with an appreciation for the differences and similarities between US and foreign cultures. Cultural competency is a skill that cannot be taught within a military academy grounded in one location, but rather must be gained through personal interaction and experience in a foreign land.”
– Medical Student, USMA Class of 2015
“The Fund removes separation between cultures. It provides unique opportunities for American cadets to rub shoulders with their Chinese counterparts. In so doing, they have an opportunity to communicate with each other – to exchange ideas and share dreams. Over time, their knowledge of each other increases…and they realize they are not all that much different from each other after all. Fear dissipates. And with it, the hatred goes away. This is what the Friendship Fund is all about.”