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Retrospective and Invitation

It’s now been three months since we came to the end of our Normandy Scholars program, one sunny morning in Amsterdam. As the director of the program for 2018-19 and trip leader I thought I’d post a few comments, both as a retrospective and also (hopefully) an inspiration and invitation to students to apply for this remarkable opportunity in the future — including of course the 2020 program.

The class in spring semester covered some demanding subjects and materials. We read a lot, watched a lot, discussed a lot, and students wrote on complex and sometimes sensitive topics. Through our readings we became more than familiar with the memory and history of WW2, with conflict and peace, victory and surrender, collaboration and resistance.

Our schedule abroad in London, Normandy, Paris, and Amsterdam was fast-paced and challenging — did I hear “punishing”? — but I’m proud to say that everyone stepped up and nobody missed a single site visit: that is, all the students, our graduate assistant Alyssa Culp (see her final blog entry for a great overview of the experience), and I even made that 6:30 a.m. bus to the train station in Paris myself!

We visited something like 17 or 18 sites in four locations over eleven days. This took organization, and the help of some great guides in the various cities, but it also needed the commitment and dedication of the 2019 Normandy Scholars class, who were a credit to the program and to UTK. So please consider submitting an application to this program — we don’t promise it’ll be easy, but we do promise a valuable and often memorable experience.