From the College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Office Hours—A Faculty Perspective
Major Matthew T. Badell

Major Matthew T. Badell

A Gateway to World Service and Global Perspectives

By Major Matthew T. Badell

As I tour the campus of Utah State University I cannot but help notice the diversity of the students and faculty; it reminds me of the variegated faces of today’s U.S. Army. According to Goethe, “Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is; treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.” As citizens of the world, the members of the Army, and specifically our cadets here at USU, are working towards a perfected self through the experiential and service learning process that the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) provides.

The USU Army ROTC transforms young people, commissions officers who meet the Army’s leadership requirements, and provides a citizenship program for all cadets. It is important to remember that not all cadets go on to become lieutenants, but their experiences here on campus and in our ROTC program help them become better, more conscientious leaders and citizens of our great nation.

For instance, over the last two years we have sent 11 cadets abroad as part of the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) Program where they have taught English, worked with the host country’s military, and provided humanitarian service. Cadets traveled to Mozambique, Jordan, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Thailand, Spain, Tanzania, Korea, Uganda, Cambodia, and Romania. The relationships they build with the people they serve in these distant places are just one of the benefits this particular program provides.

One of the key ingredients a leader must have is vision—a perspective on a goal. While on these foreign learning experiences, cadets learn that we Americans don’t always have the best ideas on how to accomplish necessary aims. They see that technology is not always the solution to overcoming obstacles and, most importantly, that leadership is really all about human relationships. They come away knowing that all growth is incremental, everywhere in the world.

During my two years at the university, I have learned a great deal about leadership development and the expanse, scope, and importance of continuing education. I feel humbled by the greatness of the people I get to work with so closely. As Oliver Wendell Holmes once observed, “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” It gives me great pleasure to see the growth of our students as they learn from the faculty and staff here on campus, and I have had a renewed sense of purpose based on our department’s contributions to widening cadets’ perspectives.

One of our cadre members was in Afghanistan last March when a Quran was burned in Bagram. He noted that it made life extremely difficult at the time and that Americans are still suffering as a result of that mistake. I remember being in Afghanistan and “adopting” an orphanage and a village. Friends and family from back home shipped everything from school supplies, soap, clothing, blankets, shoes, eyeglasses and, of course, toys, stuffed animals, and dolls for children. A few of our Soldiers established a charity of which I am pleased to be a part of called The Afghanistan Orphan Project. Many lives have been improved by the efforts of those who saw a need for compassion. If our future Army leaders understand the importance of appreciating cultural differences and being sensitive to the views and needs of others, we can ensure a more well-rounded approach to negotiation, cooperation, and peace.

I am half Assyrian and married to a refugee from Southeast Asia. We both are polyglots and enjoy learning about other cultures and people; and we know what war does and have seen generations of its effects. We adopted three children; a Mongolian daughter, a Cambodian son, and an African-Caucasian daughter. I often like to joke that diversity is the spice of life, therefore our family is “very spicy!” Having had the opportunity to study languages, people, and cultures at close range, I appreciate and value the brotherhood and sisterhood of mankind. I look forward to the day when armies are unnecessary and we all respect and love one another.

I strongly believe in the sentiment expressed in the hymn “Each life that touches ours for good.” In my 17 years of military association, I have been touched by many lives for good. As I reflect on the places I’ve been and the people I have served, and served with, I cannot but feel gratitude to have had my mind and perspective expanded and enriched. Such will be the experience of each of our program’s graduates. I am forever confident that the cadets of the USU ROTC Jim Bridger Detachment will “Meet the Challenge!”