Six Midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy were among the first to participate in the pilot faculty-led program to the country of Cape Verde, a small set of ten islands off the western coast of Africa near Senegal.
The idea of the visit was created when the Prime Minister of Cape Verde, the Honorable José Ulisses de Pina Correia e Silva, visited USNA last fall and conveyed to the Superintendent his intention of increasing cooperation between his country’s Coast Guard and officer candidates with the United States Naval Academy. The midshipmen spent ten days immersing themselves in the vibrant culture that is Cabo Verde.
Over the final three days in Mindelo, the midshipmen got an in-depth look at the lives of local Cape Verdeans through a trip to a local orphanage and involvement in painting of a local school. This particular school enrolls 400 students per year and had not been renovated since the 1980s. With the guidance of a local volunteer organizer, the midshipmen joined a group of twenty local volunteers to repaint the school. Women around the neighborhood made huge pots of stew for lunch and the midshipmen made connections with the volunteers to learn about their lives. Later, the midshipmen spent an afternoon at a local orphanage where about a dozen kids live and go to school. They played chess and card games, learned magic tricks, and played lots of soccer with them. Despite the language barrier, they found that through similar interests they could connect and share lots of laughs.