MCAGCC, Twentynine Palms, Calif.- -- When Macedonian service member, Sgt. Oliver Aleksovski, stepped off the plane at Palm Springs International Airport he was greeted by the welcoming smile of Master Sgt. Joseph Amick, director of student operations, who would be mentor, confidante and guide for his trek as a student at the largest formal school in the Marine Corps.
Aleksovski is just one of the foreign students that have attended Marine Corps Communication and Electronics School and had a positive memorable experience inside and outside of class with Amick's assistance.
As the director of student operations, Amick deals with each of the 8,000 students, who attend the communication and electronics school every year. But as the International Student Military Officer, Amick focuses on the 15-20 or so allied service members and their extra logistical, medical and administrative needs.
From picking them up at the airport and providing billeting to coordinating administrative pay and showing them U.S. culture and government, Amick spends a great deal of time with each foreign student during regular and after normal working hours.
"I spend a lot of personal time with them," said Amick. "If I didn't spend time with them, they wouldn't feel personable and at home."
Depending on his students' class workload, Amick invites the students to home-cooked dinners at his house to help them feel more at home. Amick says his wife is a huge help when it comes to having guests.
"The wife helps with dinners," said Amick. "She's of Hispanic descent and helps on a lot of occasions by picking up some of the South American dialect."
Depending on their liberty during Marine Corps holidays and time in between classes, Amick coordinates trips with "his" international students.
"It's not just about showing them sites, but teaching them," explained Amick who has guided trips to the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department as well as Sacramento and Washington, D.C., for instruction on U.S. government and judicial systems.
Although these students come to learn another trade and to learn a certain bit about the American culture, according to Amick, the international students aren't the only ones getting lessons in culture and tradition.
"It's pretty gratifying because each student that comes here, I try to learn a little about their country, their gestures, greetings and culture," explained Amick. "I also enjoy learning what they think of us."
Amick was proud that he was recently selected for the International Military Student Officer of the Year award for fiscal year 2002.
"It's pretty rewarding," said Amick as he picked up the award-a crystal globe mounted on a black marble pedestal. "It was very unexpected to win above all those ISMOs with a hundred foreign-service members on deck at once."
Aleksovski chose to give Amick the Technical Maintenance Center's Award-a handmade plaque he brought from Macedonia to give to whomever he thinks is a commendable Marine.
"He's really excellent in the job he does here," said Aleksovski. "I decided to give him this award, because he was the one that really deserved it. I appreciate everything he's done for me."
Aleksovski graduates his final MCCES course today and says he has many good experiences and memories to take back to Macedonia.
"I'm really proud to have been a part of the Marine Corps-to be the best," said Aleksovski. "Everyone here, especially Marines like Master Sgt. Amick, have helped me build my character and helped me become a better person."
Tomorrow, Aleksovski says goodbye to the Marines that made his time here memorable, but the face that shall stay crystal clear in his mind will be the smiling face he saw when he first arrived and the smiling face that will see him off-that of MCCES Director of Student Operations Master Sgt. Joseph Amick, International Military Student Officer for fiscal year 2002.