Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Marshall Center

Several years ago (2003), I was incredibly lucky to be selected to attend the Leaders for the 21st Century course at the George Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany. The Leaders Course has been combined with another course now, but back then it was a 9 week course. Nine weeks in Garmisch, one of the most beautiful places in the world, doing what I had always dreamed of - working with people from different countries, getting to know them and their stories, learning about national security, peacekeeping, etc.

For those who don't know the Marshall Center, their mission (from their website) is: to create a more stable security environment by advancing democratic institutions and relationships, especially in the field of defense; promoting active, peaceful security cooperation; and enhancing enduring partnerships among the nations of North America, Europe and Eurasia.

I was one of four Americans (two AF and two Army) in a group of around 180 people from maybe 40 (?) countries. We were split up into seminars of about 15 people each. Each day we would have lessons in the seminar room as well as mass briefings in Plenary Hall. Both rooms were equipped with earphones and all lessons/briefings were interpreted real-time into English, German and Russian. In addition, there were readings (homework) for each day.

V was sent as a representative of Albania and was one of the women in my seminar. We hit it off right away and the friendship grew from there. V's sister was going to school in Munich at the time, so we visited her over a couple weekends. Those weekends were so much fun. Picture a group of 6 or 7 people, speaking English, German, Albanian and even Italian. Yet, we were able to understand each other and have a really good time. I also got to meet V's cousin, her (now) brother-in-law and other close friends. [On the recent trip to Albania, I got to meet the cousin's mother - pretty cool.]

We also did some field trips from the Marshall Center such as a visit to Dachau and then to Vienna for briefings at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Several of us also took weekend trips to see Europe. We went to Italy one weekend and saw Venice, Bologna, and Verona, and on another weekend went to Innsbruck.

In addition to V, I am still in touch with several others. I made some good friends during my time at the Marshall Center and hope we will continue to be friends for a very long time.

Remind me and sometime I'll post about my trip through the Balkans in 2003 to visit some of my Marshall Center friends...

I'll be in KY for the next 4-5 days so won't be posting again until I get back.


  1. Thanks for sharing more of your world. I didn't realize you too requests or I might have yelled "Freebird!"

    Have fun in Kentucky. If you find yourself in Louisville, you'll be no more than 2 hours from here... a lot closer than where you are now. The Dunns would not object to a road trip to say "hi"--short visit somewher. Just a thought--no pressure. Could be more blog fodder for you.

  2. "somewhere"

    (Argh! Wordpress allows the comments to be edited so that sloppy typists like me can still sound intelligent)