USNA Welcomes International Plebes in Class of 2026
POSTED ON: Friday, August 5, 2022 2:34 PM by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jordyn Diomede
The U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) International Programs Office offers a wide variety of services and programs to midshipmen, faculty, and staff, but one particular program they manage is the four-year international midshipman program.
According to the U.S. Title 10, 60 students from foreign countries are allowed to be enrolled in the program, which started in 1863 and has since produced 557 graduates from 79 countries.
This summer, the academy welcomed 12 new students from 11 countries around the world to the Class of 2026, bringing USNA’s current total to 58 midshipmen from 27 countries.
International midshipmen typically arrive 10 days prior to Induction Day, or I-Day, to get acclimated to America and its culture.
“We conduct an orientation for each group of inbound international students,” said Tim Disher, director of the International Programs Office. “It is a team effort and process to assist in this adjustment: midshipmen, faculty, staff, and sponsors.”
The process includes visiting the District of Columbia, attending a baseball game, and watching movies related to naval history and culture, including “Top Gun: Maverick.”
“Before flying to America, one thing I actually worried about is the feeling of not being in place – like someone who is a foreigner,” said Qarin Loqman, from Putrajaya, Malaysia. “But when I touched down in Dulles Airport, I was already welcomed by the really friendly faces. So, at that moment, I knew that there will be no problem with trying to belong in this place because the people are very welcoming, and they are really friendly and also very helpful. The only challenge for me here is actually myself and it’s only me.”
Some midshipmen were selected to USNA on their second application attempt; others were students at their home country’s naval academies. Now, they are plebes, or freshmen, in USNA’s Class of 2026 with their own goals and aspirations moving forward.
Loqman hopes to finish the next four years with flying colors, while building connections and meeting new people. He knows that his classmates will become naval officers in their respective services, and he hopes they can build connections that will lead to more successful international cooperation and exchanges of ideas in the future.
His motivation while attending the academy is the flag he wears – his country’s flag.
“I want to compete with the nation’s best, because I know that everyone who is appointed to this academy is the best of the best from their prospective states,” he said. “I want to show that my country also has some value, and I want to compete for the stage and learn what I can while I’m here.”
Moinuddin Hoque, from Dhaka, Bangladesh, said that he is motivated to do well and try his best while attending the academy so that next year someone else from his country can attend. People in his country told him to do well so that they can send a Bangladeshi to the Naval Academy every year.
“It’s an expectation from them and I want to fulfill this,” he said.
Ampofo Johnson Appiagyei, from Koforidua, Ghana, also wants to do well at USNA so that Ghanaians will have more opportunities to come to the Naval Academy. He aspires to go into the cyber operations career field, as there is a need for cyber operations in Ghana.
“I know a lot of people in Africa, in my country, that need this help,” said Appiagyei. “Coming here, I want to build a kind of connection that will help me aid them to get to wherever they want to be, because I see a lot of people have dreams, but they don’t have the means to get there.”
Muhamad Danish Imran, from Putrajaya, Malaysia, wants to bring back knowledge that he learned at USNA to his country in order to improve their navy even further. Additionally, what drives him is his mother and father.
“They have very high hopes for me over here,” he said. “I hope to reach those expectations for them.”
Ana-Maria Gafton, from Adjud, Romania, is motivated by her family. With everyone in her family being smart and having attended big universities back home – none of them being in the military field – she wanted to prove that she could be different, but also do something great.
“I really love all this military stuff,” she said. “I love to have some mates to do all of the trainings. I love to serve my country. All of this is amazing to me.”
Whether motivated by family or country, these midshipmen all have reasons why they are at the Naval Academy.
“The midshipmen complete an extremely busy and challenging 47-month program,” said Disher. “USNA leaders have consistently and enthusiastically supported important initiatives such as international program opportunities to develop leaders required by the fleet and our Department of Defense to meet the uncertain and dynamic challenges that lay ahead.”
In addition to international midshipmen, USNA also has 11 officers from 10 different countries currently working at the academy as faculty members through the international officer program.
The mission of the International Programs Office is to enhance the globalization of midshipman education by seeking and creating opportunities that contribute to midshipman knowledge regarding strategically important geographic regions and proficiency in foreign languages as defined by Navy leadership.
The four-year international midshipman program and the international officer program are just two of the many programs supporting this mission. Others include the semester study abroad program and language immersion program.
“The four-year international midshipmen program provides an incredible opportunity for officer candidates from many countries to develop understanding of other points of view, differing cultural norms and establish trust through lasting relationships,” said Disher. “Not all USNA midshipmen will be able to travel abroad during their 47-month journey, but they will interact and engage with an international midshipman as an upper-class, classmate or under-class.”
The International Programs Office serves as the focal point for information and coordination of all international engagements related to USNA faculty, staff, and midshipmen, including the processing of official U.S. passports and country visas, travel preparation, foreign travel screenings, and coordinating with U.S. Embassy locations.To learn more about the Naval Academy’s international programs, visit https://www.usna.edu/InternationalProgram. For more information about the Naval Academy, please see www.usna.edu or our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USNavalAcademy.
Category: Midshipman, People