Mario, the Albanian officer graduated at the US Naval Academy

 The American Navy Academy is one of the most prestigious institutions that prepares the American Army's staff. Mario Trupja, is the second Albanian student who graduates from this academy and will serve with the Albanian naval forces as part of a program that enables the training of a new military force in NATO member countries.

The graduation ceremony at the American Navy Academy is not an usual event, as many others in this term of graduation studies for many American and international students.

Mario Trupja, from Albania, is the second soldier graduated from this prestigious school. He is one of 1052 students who completed the studies this year at this academy after a hard-working of four years.

"It has been difficult. There have been some stages. The first is the cultural shock, the food, society, language, you should first learn about the way of life. Plus that the academy had its own traditions that I had to get used to, the treatment, the very busy schedule .... Normally now is a very special moment, it is the culminating moment of all that work." Mario says.

The schooling at the American Navy Academy combined a strong physical exercise and rigorous academic work at a branch such as Naval Architecture and Marine Architecture where he Mario is graduated.

"With the training you get used to, because of the environment. But the academic part always offers a more challenge. My branch was architecture and naval engineering, which has to do with the design of ships, sailing vessels and whatever I like the very things I did, is still very difficult, so I believe it has been the biggest challenge," Mario says.

Although just under one percent of the students admitted to this academy are not of US, Mario says he has never felt as foreigner and has created precious friends here.

"When you come the first day, ... everyone gets the same haircut - zero, so they all get together - and there are no differences and that's the most special part I believe ... The friends, is one of the most beautiful things I've got from this place," says Mario.

Albania is giving its modest contribution to NATO forces and graduatings students as Mario in the American military academies will play an important role in transforming and developing the Albanian armed forces towards NATO standards, particularly in peacekeeping operations.

"This is a great investment for Albania that sends a young student at an early age in order to return after four years and to serve in the armed forces. We hope to have a future in the armed forces for Mario and as he advances not only in the army or the Albanian government, he knows there are friends here in the United States," says Tim Disher, director of the international program at the Academy of Navy.

And Mario is about to return to his country to implement the knowledge gained here in the Albanian navy fleet and contribute there for at least a six-year period.
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