Spring Break 2018: Normandy, Lajes Air Base, D.C., and La Désirade

Experiential learning is a core commitment at Gettysburg College. Students learn best by doing and seeing, which is why each Eisenhower Institute program features experiential learning opportunities to supplement on-campus learning throughout the year.

Learn more about what our students accomplished over spring break the week of March 12th:

Strategy and Leadership in Transformational Times

Strategy and Leadership in Transformational Times, led by Susan Eisenhower, traveled to Normandy, France, to study the D-Day landings from a strategic perspective. Guided by Susan Eisenhower and former Army War College professor Col. (ret.) Len Fullenkamp, participants visited British, American, and Canadian landing sites, Allied and German cemeteries, and other sites related to Operation Overlord. Participants focused on how the campaign’s organizers, including General Dwight D. Eisenhower, planned and executed the operation and how those lessons can be applied to present-day leadership.

“The experience was extraordinarily beneficial to my growth as a strategist, a leader, and a good citizen,” said Liam Kerr ’19. “The presence of Susan Eisenhower and Colonel Fullenkamp on the trip made it unforgettable.”

SALTT St. Mere-Eglise

SALTT participants meet with Mayor Jean Quetier of St. Mere-Eglise, one of Gettysburg’s “Sister Cities.”

Fielding Fellowship

The Fielding Fellows under Harold G. Evans Chair of Eisenhower Leadership Studies Dr. Shirley Anne Warshaw traveled to Portugal as part of their State Department-sponsored Diplomacy Lab Project. All year, the Fellows have been researching the process through which the United States turns over overseas military bases to host nations and how those host nations repurpose the infrastructure. Their research has specifically focused on the Lajes Air Base in the Azores, which recently saw a downsized U.S. presence. Over break, the Fellows flew to Lajes, toured the base, and met with the base commander and other U.S. personnel at the base. They finished their trip by presenting their research and new findings to the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon.

“Even though we spent the last several months researching Lajes and the local island economy and environment, nothing could compare to seeing the actual situation on the ground,” said Matthew Fay ’18. “The Embassy staff were very impressed with our presentation, I think largely because of the insights we gained from the visit.”

FF Embassy

The Fielding Fellows at the U.S. Embassy Lisbon after presenting their year-long research to the Embassy staff.

Inside Politics

Our Inside Politics program led by Kasey Pipes made the short trip down to the nation’s capital to meet with dozens of policy and politics experts in the government and the media. Participants networked with and learned more about how Washington works from several experts, including White House Fellows, EPA Press Secretary Michael Abboud, White House Communications staffer Liz Oberg ’15, Real Clear Politics Washington Bureau Chief Carl Cannon, and C-SPAN’s Steve Scully. The group took advantage of Gettysburg’s robust alumni network in D.C., meeting with 8 Gettysburgians who now work in the capital.

“Participating in Inside Politics has been a humbling and rewarding experience that has granted me the invaluable opportunity to grow personally and professionally. The food at the D.C. restaurants was also a major hit,” said Katherine Kurata ’19.

IP Steve Scully

Inside Politics participants talk with C-SPAN’s senior executive producer and political editor Steve Scully.

Environmental Leadership

The Environmental Leadership program led by  Dr. Howard Ernst spent the week on the island of La Désirade in the French Guadeloupe region in the Caribbean. The group has been studying marine fishery policy and goat overpopulation on the island all year, and spring break provided the perfect opportunity to visit the island and speak with locals. Beyond offering insights into the island’s ecology, the trip also gave participants a view of the local history, racial diversity, and the island’s relation to mainland France.

“For every individual that we interviewed, we were able to experience a cross-cultural connection with new people of entirely different lifestyles, and I believe that this was hugely valuable not just for the purposes of our research, but as a reflection upon our own lives and values,” said Abigail Rec ’20.

EL Island Elders

Environmental Leadership participants meet with elders on La Désirade to learn more about the island’s history, culture, and salient issues.

Learn more about all of our expert-led programs.


Article by Jeffrey Lauck ‘18, a political science and history double major and a 2017-2018 Fielding Fellow