NATO staff members teach VB students about different cultures

LCDR Mario Bobeth and MSGT Christopher Crowley delivered cultural presentations to children at Holland Elementary School. (Photo courtesy NATO ACT)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Surrounded by little hands and waving flags from countries all over the world, Lieutenant Colonel Jens Assum was one of nine NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT) members who visited Holland Elementary School on Wednesday.

Assum, a Danish officer, and eight other members of NATO’s ACT were able to reach nearly 300 students in grades 1 through 4 by giving cultural presentations.

Students met staff members from all over the world and learned about cultures different from their own.

Lieutenant Commander Mario Bobeth and Master Sergeant Christopher Crowley, both from Germany, talked to the children about European currency in Germany, France, Spain and other countries.

This cultural presentation marks the last school visit for NATO ACT, and included officers and other staff members from Albania, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Latvia, Portugal and Romania.

The visit came at the request of Holland Elementary School’s principal, Dr. Callie Richardson, who saw NATO’s close proximity as a way to provide his students with an enriching multi-national experience.

“We see NATO ACT as a unique cultural opportunity for the students,” Richardson said. “Many people don’t even realize that we have people from 28 NATO countries literally serving in our back yards, and they enjoy sharing their culture with the community.”

NATO ACT plays an active role in the Hampton Roads community by sharing aspects of their culture and finding ways to help others better understand how NATO helps preserve peace and security.

Each year, NATO ACT hosts the Model NATO Challenge for high school students, which is a scholarship competition where 28 students participate in a mock global crisis simulation and confront issues facing NATO today.

This year’s challenge was held in March. Student diplomats discussed the Syrian civil war crisis and whether it was an issue that needed to be discussed or not, what actions needed to be taken, and voted on what actions they thought should be put into effect.

To learn more about NATO ACT, visit To learn more about the Model NATO Challenge, visit