Army ROTC engineering student helps flood victims in Bosnia
3:02 p.m., Aug. 25, 2014--As the nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina struggled to recover from devastating floods in mid-May, international neighbors and allies rushed to provide humanitarian aid to the country’s residents including University of Delaware junior Joseph Erony.
Erony, a mechanical engineering major and Army ROTC member, and 25 Army ROTC colleagues, spent three weeks handing out food and hygiene items, cleaning up debris and rebuilding structures in the cities of Tuzla, Samac and Maglaj as part of an Army Cadet Command Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency Program (CULP).
Training international coaches
Intended as a training exercise prior to beginning active duty, CULP experiences teach future military personnel how to interact with international governments, militaries and citizens.
Individuals accepted into the program are deployed to various regions around the world to teach English, participate in military-to-military exchanges and conduct humanitarian work.
Erony worked with the Bosnian military and several international militaries, while simultaneously forming relationships with community members.
“As a future officer, the opportunity to develop a cultural understanding of how other places operate, and how to adapt accordingly, is a huge advantage for my military career,” said Erony.
He viewed the Bosnian citizens’ optimism and friendliness, despite current adversities and previous conflicts such as the Bosnian War in the 1990s, as a positive example for other nations that are struggling to obtain peace.
“While Bosnian citizens of different ethnic groups were enemies during the war 20 years ago, it’s inspiring that they now collaborate to solve problems and to make their country better,” he said. “Plus, it’s good that the locals see that we are willing to work with them in a time of need, because that will be crucial for developing future relations.”
Erony said the experience made him more globally aware of how interactions between people of different nations can lead to future military alliances, and that he would encourage other Army ROTC members to apply for the program.
“The program helps cadets realize that not every country is as well off as America, and that understanding what people are going through globally builds connections that can help our country in the long run,” he said.
Article by Collette L. O’Neal