This year The Citadel welcomed more than 40 international students from countries around the world, continuing the college’s commitment to fostering a diverse community of global citizens. International students have been an important part of the Corps of Cadets for more than a century, beginning with 8 Cuban cadets who matriculated in the fall of 1904. Since then, The Citadel has proudly been home to cadets from every corner of the globe.
Senior Cadet Lt. Col. Po-Shuo Hung
Cadet Lt. Col. Po-Shuo Hung, regimental executive officer and the third-ranked cadet in the Corps, is proud to call himself a Southerner. A native of Kaohsiung, a southern harbor city in Taiwan, Hung feels at home in Charleston, where the coastal heat and humidity are nothing new.
Hung came to The Citadel through a program between the Taiwanese government and the United States. He was selected to attend The Citadel as one of the top five cadets from the Taiwanese Army Academy.
While some things in Charleston are nothing new to the Taiwanese native, like picturesque beaches and delicious seafood, Hung has found himself enjoying others that are distinctly American—country music, for one—and football. “I attended my first football game here at The Citadel,” said Hung. “All the tailgating is new to me—it’s really fun.”
It was a cool, clear November day in 2022 when Hung attended one of the biggest rivalry games in college football. At Memorial Stadium in Clemson with his roommate, Regimental Commander Sullivan Newsome, Hung got caught up in the excitement of the packed stadium, a sea of red and orange, and watched as the Gamecocks beat Clemson by a single point—their first win against Clemson since 2013. “I had never experienced anything like it,” Hung said. The game was just one of many new experiences for Hung, who spent Thanksgiving with Newsome and his family. Sitting at the table with the family bulldog underfoot, Hung was shocked when his slice of pecan pie was served with ice cream and whipped cream on top—a sugar combo he wouldn’t find at home.
Enjoying decadent desserts around the Thanksgiving table is reminiscent of the Moon Festival in Taiwan, a celebration dating back thousands of years to thank the moon for the harvest. Today, Hung and his family celebrate the festival with mooncakes, a traditional pastry filled with a rich, sweet filling.
Hung enjoys traveling and learning about new cultures—he spent his last winter furlough traveling alone through the Netherlands, Brussels, London and Paris.
Hung tutors Mandarin in the Student Success Center—he understands the hard-fought value of communication. Fluent in Mandarin, Taiwanese and English, Hung recalls struggling on matriculation day to adjust. “The first day I got here,” said Hung, “I barely spoke English, and everything was a culture shock.” Now, the regimental executive officer is drillmaster certified and has received Gold Stars for academic achievement. Hung has a 14-year Taiwanese Army contract and plans to branch into artillery after graduating from The Citadel in the spring.
Junior Cadet Angela Angela
To report for matriculation day, Angela Angela flew from Myanmar to Indonesia, from Indonesia to Qatar, from Qatar to Chicago, from Chicago to Minnesota, and from Minnesota to Charleston. Though it was the first time the now-junior cadet had traveled abroad, she was excited to start a new chapter at The Citadel. “I was focused on how I wanted to be here,” she said. “This is my dream college.”
Growing up in Myitkyina in Kachin State, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), Angela always knew she wanted to attend college abroad. She found The Citadel while researching American military colleges and knew instantly that it was the right place for her. “I always wanted to do something extraordinary,” said Angela. “The Citadel seemed like the perfect place to do just that.”
In Charleston, Citadel admissions officials had to get creative. Angela was only given one name at birth. Her family has no surname, so she was registered as Angela A. Angela.
It took Angela two days to fly from Southeast Asia to the United States—but that wasn’t the only obstacle in her path. Just three months before she was set to leave, a military coup deposed the democratically elected government in Myanmar.
Angela couldn’t take her high school finals. Online school during COVID was disrupted when the internet was shut down nationwide, and she worried she wouldn’t be able to obtain her visa when the U.S. embassy in her country closed. “There were bombings and shootings near my house,” said Angela. “We didn’t really know where to run because it was the same everywhere.” But Angela was able to obtain her visa and made the long journey overseas alone.
Despite the obstacles, Angela has thrived as a cadet. She is the academic officer for Lima Company, and she has been awarded several scholarships, including the Raytheon Scholarship, the C.L. and H.P. Tucker Scholarship and the Wideman Scholarship. As a freshman, she was named the Biology Outstanding Freshman of the Year, and when she switched her major in her sophomore year, she was awarded the Chemistry Outstanding Sophomore of the Year.
As a high school student at home in Myanmar, Angela did not care for chemistry—it wasn’t until a freshman chemistry class with Professor Thaddeus Le-Vasicek that she discovered her love for the subject. “He was amazing. I found out at that moment that I was really good at chemistry.” Since then, she has participated in extensive research in chemistry with Le-Vasicek that she and her peers plan to submit for publication. “We’re trying to produce biofuel from plant-based waste products like sawdust that people just throw away,” said Angela.
Sophomore Cadet Olena Fedinova
Olena Fedinova woke up in the early hours of the morning on February 24, 2022, to what she thought was the sound of fireworks. It was only when a louder resounding boom echoed through her bedroom that she realized what she was hearing—the first Russian air attacks against her hometown of Odesa, Ukraine.
Fedinova, who is now a sophomore, was terrified. While bombs fell on the city, Fedinova and her family, along with two other neighborhood families, moved into the basement of the Fedinova home. Sleeping on mattresses pulled downstairs from the upper levels of the house and surrounded by shelves of canned goods, they sheltered in place for two weeks. Despite continued air strikes, Fedinova decided it was time to help, not hide. She and her friends began cooking meals for soldiers at the bakery of a family friend and gathering sand from the beaches into bags to form barricades. “Nobody expected war,” said Fedinova. “I just needed to do something.”
As it became clear that the war would be long lasting, Fedinova decided to look for educational opportunities abroad. Schools in Odesa, forced by continuing air strikes to move online, were further disrupted when power stations were destroyed, leaving Ukrainian citizens without electricity or access to the internet. She discovered The Citadel while researching colleges abroad and immediately applied. “It sounded incredible,” she said. “I couldn’t believe that it might become real.”
Soon after the war broke out, college officials announced that The Citadel would offer scholarships to students affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Fedinova was one of three students to take advantage of the scholarship opportunity.
On her first night in Charleston, Fedinova was greeted by Brig. Gen. Sally Selden, who serves as her host family, as well as Citadel President Gen. Glenn M. Walters, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), ’79, and Commandant of Cadets Col. Tom Gordon. Despite the challenges of leaving home and starting over in a new country, Fedinova has felt supported by The Citadel community. She quickly made friends with her roommate, Angel Law, who helped her communicate with her classmates when she first arrived. “Sometimes she was like a translator between me and the upperclassmen,” said Fedinova. “She’s my best friend.” She remembers Recognition Day fondly—“it was hard, but we were all supporting each other.”
While the future of her home remains uncertain, Fedinova, a business management major, continues to work hard to secure her own. She was eager to return to The Citadel for her sophomore year as a cadre corporal after summer furlough. “I missed this intense life,” Fedinova said.
Freshman Cadet Abdulla Alsubeaei
Situated on the Persian Gulf, the island nation Bahrain is smaller than the state of South Carolina, and according to freshman Abdulla Alsubeaei, hotter and more humid.
Alsubeaei traveled more than 7,000 miles from his home in Bahrain to attend The Citadel after learning about the college from a graduate. “He talked about how amazing The Citadel is, how it changes you as a person, how it just sticks to your heart,” Alsubeaei said. That sounded perfect to Alsubeaei, who was looking for a challenge. “I did my own research. I really enjoyed its philosophies.”
A college with a strong ethical code appealed to Alsubeaei, who wants to develop more than just academically. “My heroes are my father and my grandfather. They raised me. They taught me good and bad. They taught me morals and ethics, and they helped me develop my own morals and ethics as well.”
Being far away from his family is a challenge for Alsubeaei—the seven-hour time difference makes it difficult to find time to talk. Despite the challenges of being far from home, Alsubeaei knows the experience will pay off. “My father always says to me, ‘I want you to be better than me.’” Alsubeaei said. “And I hope I can be better than him, so I can provide for him what he provided for me and more.”
This is not Alsubeaei’s first time away from home—he has traveled the world extensively. On his first trip to the United States, he visited New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami. “I love this country,” he said. “America is beautiful.” He is especially fascinated by Charleston’s history. When first arriving, he visited Fort Sumter. Surrounded by sea air and historic canons, Alsubeaei was captivated by the opportunity to step into the past. “This city is like a museum.”
Some things about Charleston surprised the freshman cadet—in Bahrain, the average rainfall is less than seven inches a year. In Charleston, it’s 48 inches. “Back in my country, we get rain like two weeks a year and then it’s over,” said Alsubeaei. “I remember on the plane, I looked outside. There were trees as far as my eyes could see. I was like, ‘Wow, I really am not in Bahrain.’”
Not everything was unfamiliar, however. “Even before I came here, I was listening to American music,” said Alsubeaei. “Yes ma’am. Taylor Swift all day.”