I AM PSE: From War Zone to Home
I AM PSE: From War Zone to Home
By: Saidi Wadesisi & Kathryn Brooks
Saidi Wadesisi joined the Army National Guard on September 20, 2015. He joined because he wanted to serve his country and give back to it, as well as experience superior training. He chose the Army over the other branches because he “liked the old Army lifestyle”. He chose the Army National Guard specifically because of the flexibility it offers him; he can get a taste of the military lifestyle while not having to commit to the active duty lifestyle. Sai is an Infantryman. He knew he always wanted to do Infantry because he “wanted to be in the action and on the front line”.
Sai actually started his education at Wright State, but then transferred to Miami because of Miami’s superior business program. However, his education was interrupted when he was deployed for all of 2017. He was deployed to Jordan, Kuwait, and the UAE.
He admits his transition from deployment back to school was tough; it’s a completely different mental atmosphere.
“You spend a year without having to think [people are telling you what to do and it’s all about your mission], and then you come back to school and it’s very mentally intensive,” he said.
Sai had to change his study habits because he “wasn’t the same person after deployment”. His first semester back he had a sleeping problem. He wanted to improve his professionalism, and the community of PSE was one he felt most drawn to innately. After being inducted last semester, Sai credits the people within the chapter for helping him immensely in his transition back to school. Together, they have harnessed long-lasting relationships that encourage each other to stay on track and be accountable for their academic and professional journeys.
Kathryn Brooks is a sophomore Marketing major and a PSE member since the fall semester of my freshman year. In that time, she has been on over five projects and two committees! Some of her favorite projects to date include the new member project for Procter and Gamble and a philanthropic project for a Cincinnati-based organization called CancerFree KIDS. Currently, she serves on the community service committee and the administration committee, where she contributes to the process of coordinating PSE’s blood drive for the community service committee and assists in writing and developing the Chapter Operations Guide for administration. Outside of PSE, she is a part of a grant project from the National Endowment for the Humanities since the summer of 2018, with a focus on supporting veterans through discussion. Kathryn is a current student discussion leader for the course.
ABOUT KATHRYN’S WORK:
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has an existing initiative called ‘Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War’. The grant my project has is actually a subset of that program, ‘Dialogues on the Experience of War’. The overarching purpose of this is to support veterans through the ongoing “study and discussion of important humanities sources about war…”.
Our class ‘From War Zone to Home: A Humanities Dialogue’ meets once a week. The classroom is comprised of a 50-50 split of veterans and civilians; the students are aged 18-55. I assist in leading the students with my fellow student discussion leader, Kyle, who is a Marine veteran. We split the students in half and each has our own discussion group that we lead. During a typical class, one of the four professors will lecture about their respective topic (American Revolutionary War, Vietnam War, Global War on Terrorism or Philosophy), then we break into our small groups and I lead my students in related discussions about philosophical and historical concepts, and then how they relate to the students’ lives. For example, we cover the historical duties of soldiers throughout wars before the Global War on Terror. Then, I ask my veterans to draw comparisons between those wars and their time fighting during the Global War on Terror. Although the wars were during different times and technology has improved, basic thoughts of soldiers are still the same: I miss my family, this sucks, my friends are dying, we are undersupplied, and how long has it been since my last shower? We host many open events through this class that allows for further education of the public on veteran history. Additionally, we try to build a community for the veterans by bringing them together in this class and its related events.
Sai thinks the concept of classes like that of Kathryn’s would be helpful to veterans and traditional students alike. He admits there is a stigma of how veterans can’t handle class work and academics, which isn’t true. He also recognizes the age gap that is traditionally there between veterans and traditional students; most veterans going back to school are 25-35, whereas the traditional student is 18-22.
The class strives to positively impact not only the direct community we have built within the recitations of this class but also overarching communities throughout Miami University, Middletown, and Hamilton.
With leaders from both worlds of the topic venturing onward, PSE places high regard to the progressive movement of diversity and inclusion we hold as the chapter marches in 2019.