In June, approximately 120 international officers from more than 90 countries will arrive in Leavenworth for the new class at the Command and General Staff College on Fort Leavenworth.
Awaiting each of them will be sponsor families to assist them in their transition to American life.
The Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce is once again hosting Operation International and is currently recruiting community members to serve as sponsors to the incoming international officers and their families.
“Sponsorship is a fun and rewarding way to give back to the community, to learn about the world and to build lifelong international friendships,” according to a Chamber press release.
The Chamber has conducted the program since 1952.
Operation International applications are available at the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce, 518 Shawnee St. Call 913-682-4112 for more information.
Applications should be completed and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to Maxine Hunter, 4236 Clayton Court, Leavenworth, KS, 66048. The application deadline is March 30.
Many people have sponsored numerous international officers over the years.
Diane M Ungvarsky, a research psychologist for the U.S. Army Research Laboratory on Fort Leavenworth, and her husband began hosting in 1997 and have hosted 26 officers from 21 countries.
They are sponsoring the two international officers from Lithuania this year.
Hunter and Ungvarsky have been on the Operation International Committee since 2008. The other current members are Laurie Holden and Charlene Arts.
“Sponsorship gives you a unique opportunity to learn about different cultures and develop friendships around the world,” Ungvarsky said. “We keep in email or Facebook contact with many of the internationals we have sponsored over the years. We have watched their careers progress and children grow up and have followed their travels.”
The Fort Leavenworth International Sponsors program also is available to assist incoming international officers, as well as the Greater Kansas City chapter of People to People International sponsors.
Mike Brettman, field studies program director on post, said each international officer is assigned a sponsor from each of the groups to assist them.
He said all of the groups are currently recruiting sponsor families.
Brettman said sponsors assist international officers and their families in such things as banking, housing and school.
“Basically, it’s about settling the new officer in and exposing them to normal American life,” Brettman said.
He said sponsors often include international officers and their families in such things as birthday parties, high school games and day trips.
“It has a huge impact,” Brettman said. “We have officers come back 20 years later, and their first question is, ‘Can I see my sponsor?’”
Brettman said the sponsor program on post will be recruiting new sponsors through the end of April.
The current CGSC class will graduate June 15, and the next class will begin arriving June 19.