Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Niko Ruud [Ex'13] : An American cadet in Salon-de-Provence

Originally published in AirSalon n°46 (airsalon.ecole-air.fr/)

On November the 10th 2013, a ceremony took place in Marseille to celebrate the American Veterans Day. All American cadets, the exchange officer, Captain Dumm, and some voluntary first-year French cadets attended this formal occasion to observe the American tradition and symbolize the friendship between the two countries. Once there, we marched all together on the sound of bagpipes to get in formation and paid tribute to the death American soldiers. After the ceremony, a cocktail was organized which gave us the opportunity to have a chat about this huge symbolic day for American soldiers and also about the integration of the American cadets in the French Air Force Academy. Niko Ruud is one of them and answered our questions.

First, could you tell us how much time your exchange lasts and how many American cadets are part of it?
We are 8 Americans Cadets in the School for a four-month exchange, from August to December.

And what were your motivations to take part in this exchange? 
The main motivation is of course to learn French. I mean we already had French lessons but to live in a country for four months is much better to practice the language. Another aspect is partnership. America and France are involved in a lot of operations together so French and American service members have to work with each other. This exchange is also a chance and an asset for the future.

Ok! And what is your feeling about the partnership with the French cadets? Do you feel involved in the class? 
It is a little bit difficult because of the separate dormitories and lessons. But we’re lucky because this will evolve in the future and the cadets in your class, next year, will maybe live along with the brigades. But in fact this is naturally a good partnership.

By the way you had access to the whole traditions (JIFIC) here in the École de L'air. Do you know if it goes the same way in USAFA for the French Cadets? 
Well, actually the French Cadets arrive too late in Colorado Springs to join the summer boot camp of their class and leave too soon to attend the one of the new cadets. But I think that they also have access to all the other activities.

One last question: what are the things you have enjoyed or not enjoyed here?
(Laugh) Yeah, of course I did really like the friendship with the Aspirants. Otherwise I appreciate the military training like the FA-MAS shooting. The instructors really know what they are talking about and this is interesting.

And there is nothing that you haven’t enjoyed? 
Yes actually there is technology. In USAFA the organization is mainly based on new technologies. We receive information by e-mails and do not have to read them on a board. This is the only “bad aspect” that I see but it's not a big deal.
As a conclusion it is obvious that despite our old-fashioned way of life, the French Air Force Academy is attractive for American Cadets, particularly when a symbolic and merry cocktail is organized…