Tuesday, November 19, 2013

SAIS veterans: "Contributing to something larger than yourself"

Students come to SAIS with many different backgrounds. The diverse nationalities, academic credentials, work experiences, ages and cultures foster a sense of community and sharing. Over the years, many in the military have studied at SAIS, adding their unique perspective. Below, John Dellinger and David Collins reflect on a recent gathering of military veterans in Bologna.

Eighteen SAIS Europe students and faculty met recently over dinner, drawn by a common bond: military service.

November 11: Veteran's Day in the United States. Known as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day in other countries, it originally commemorated the end of World War One and now serves to recognize the service of all military veterans.

The dinner that evening, organized by Prof. William Belding, was an opportunity to recognize the service of SAIS veterans who sacrificed their time and energy to contribute to something larger than themselves.

Fifteen students from seven countries joined three faculty members, including Director Kenneth Keller, who served as an officer in the early days of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine fleet.

Each veteran stood up to give a brief introduction and speak about what their service meant to them. While no veteran gave the same speech, everyone valued being part of something greater than themselves and was proud of serving their country.

The veterans at the dinner came from Australia, Austria, Finland, Greece, Israel, Nigeria and the United States.
"To me, the day is about remembering the people I served with, especially those who were injured or died in the line of duty," said SAIS Europe student John Dellinger, who was an officer in the U.S. Marines for fifteen years and then served in the Royal Australian Navy. "My military experience provided me with a lot of exposure to the world, and I knew that at SAIS I could consolidate that experience and prepare for a future of service beyond the military."
Many veterans attend SAIS to expand their knowledge base so they can continue to serve their country. Some pursue concentrations such as Conflict Management and International Development, which allow them to leverage their experience in the military to serve the larger international community.

Either way, SAIS is a great opportunity for veterans to expand their intellectual horizons and build on the experience of military service to make the world a better place.

Military service prepares the SAIS veteran in another way. The discipline, dedication, self-sacrifice and teamwork that people learn in the military are directly applicable to life in graduate school. In a rigorous program such as SAIS, these skills are invaluable.

Meanwhile, veterans bring a practical perspective to many of the themes encountered during studies at SAIS, and in that sense they make a valuable contribution to the education of their peers.

David Collins (BC14/DC15)
John Dellinger (MIPP14)

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