News | April 25, 2015

Community Sponsors Provide Key Service to Military College Here

By Rebecca Coleman, Joint Staff Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. – Military officers from 11 countries are now in Hampton Roads to attend 10 weeks of instruction at the Joint Forces Staff College’s Joint and Combined Warfighting School. To help the international students feel welcome, the college’s International Military Student Office (IMSO) manages a Community Sponsor Program aimed at linking each international student with an active duty, Reserve, retired or DoD civilian sponsor.  “This is a great opportunity for military and civilians with base access to connect with and make new friends from around the world,” said Ms. Geri Wilson, chief, IMSO. The foreign military students are in grades O-4 to O-6, speak English and reside on the JFSC campus on Naval Support Activity, Hampton Roads. 

     Sponsors can help the international fellows gain a broader view of our American way of life, said Wilson. Community sponsors assist in providing the International students a perspective of American life. At the same time, community sponsors have an opportunity to learn about another country and culture.

      There are no specific commitments required of community sponsors. Sponsors can spend as little or as much time with their students as they wish. Typically, a community sponsor might invite their student to dinner or take them on a family outing. Long-lasting friendships are frequently established with community sponsors remaining in contact with the international students long after the students return to their country, according to Wilson.

     Wilson said her office continually seeks new sponsors motivated to help the students learn more about our way of life, customs and especially the local area. The college conducts several classes each year, with the number of international students varying with each class. An orientation is held for all new community sponsors to help familiarize them with the program and to answer any questions they may have.

     Active duty officers, retirees, reservists or DOD civilians interested in becoming a Community Sponsor or wish for more information, can call 443-6626/6135 or E-mail