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Public Affairs : Idea Sharing

New idea-sharing forum introduced at USMA 

Story and photo by Kathy Eastwood
Staff Writer
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 26, 2015) — Cadets, faculty, staff and community members were invited to participate in an inaugural Idea Sharing Session Feb. 20 at the West Point Club to promote intellectualism, encourage idea generation and enhance leader development in an open forum.

“We started planning this Idea Sharing last semester to promote the sharing of ideas and intellectual growth,” Class of 2016 Cadet Eugene Coleman, class president, said. “This can combine videos, texts and speakers.”

Class of 2017 Zachary Cohen spoke about paying attention and embracing the little things and told a personal story on how he came to this conclusion. Cohen displayed photos of himself the night before his first birthday lying in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes.

“I had something wrong with my lungs, they were filling up with water,” Cohen said.

He was basically on his death bed as they didn’t believe he would survive the night.

“It’s not what the doctors did for me,” Cohen said. “But the most amazing thing that happened to me that day was the little things; I had a cake that was two feet away from my death bed. My dad’s stepmother said ‘Mrs. Cohen, would you be okay if I had a prayer session for your son,’ and mom said it was fine.”

In another incident that happened the same night was what his mother’s boss gave him when she found out about Cohen’s condition. The boss told Mrs. Cohen of a belief in Native American spirituality and asked if it was OK to make a bag for Zachary to place on his bed. Again, Mrs. Cohen said yes.

“I still have that bag hanging in my room,” Cohen said. “My challenge for you is to take these little things that broaden your horizon a little. We are all missing the little things. Give these little things more meaning, be the cake.”

“Philosophically, it is important for everyone to broaden their horizons and, potentially, the expectations of what you define as success; maybe concern for the brotherhood is part of that success,” Cohen added.

Class of 2017 Cadet Alex Grinberg spoke about incorporating Professional Military Ethic into the curriculum of the elementary and middle schools nationwide.  
Class of 2017 Cadet Zachary Cohen talks about a personal experience Feb. 20 at the idea-sharing, or West Point Idea Friday, event which was a combined cadet and faculty endeavor.

“Kids can learn and embrace honorable living,” Grinberg said. “They don’t need famous people as role models.”

Grinberg said that many children may be saved from the gangs and other dark callings by learning about honorable living and ethics.

Lt. Col. Remi Hajjar, assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, spoke about cross cultural competence.

“Academically I’m a sociologist, and I studied culture in the military,” Hajjar said. “Professionally, it is an extremely sensible way to rise in the Army, it’s a skill set for internal Army cohesion.”

Hajjar explained that cross cultural competence depends on attitude, skill set and knowledge, those three come together and allows an individual or group to succeed in situations marked by cultural diversity.

“I thought the session went well,” Capt. Jon Mohundro, Behavioral Sciences and Leadership instructor, said. “I was especially impressed with the ideas shared by the cadets. Often in the Army we limit the inclusion of ideas to those generated by senior officers, so it was great to have some cadets share some important ideas they had developed.

“I hope that going forward we continue to grow and interest both presenters and audience members,” he added. “Our goal is to develop the event to the point that it will continue to be a place to share and debate ideas after we’ve moved on.”

The next idea-sharing event will be March 27.