2016 Student Leadership Academy Learns ‘What WWII Means Today’
Last week, 23 high school and college students from across the country traveled to New Orleans to take part in The National WWII Museum’s Student Leadership Academy, a rigorous educational travel program exploring lessons of leadership and the theme of what WWII history and events mean today.
For one week, these 23 students enjoyed special behind-the-scenes access to Museum exhibits, artifacts, vehicles, and archives. Student Leadership Academy participants also engaged with veterans, both from World War II and the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, who spoke humbly about the enduring qualities of what makes a strong leader and how some of those qualities never change. While in New Orleans, the Student Leadership Academy visited Chalmette Battlefield — the site of the pivotal 1815 Battle of New Orleans — as well as Bollinger Shipyards, connecting modern-day ship construction to the entrepreneurial leadership and legacy of the Higgins Industries boats so central to the Museum’s identity. In addition to completing pre-tour reading assignments to better prepare themselves for their experience, each student also viewed selections from the Museum’s Digital Collection of images and veterans’ oral histories
All throughout the Student Leadership Academy program, however, students continually engaged in structured Leadership Lesson Debates, revisiting the lessons of World War II and relating them to their own lives and the world around them. These debates ranged from what should be the future US role as it relates to global security in a now all-volunteer military to the dangers of succumbing to fear and prejudice as seen in the wake of Executive Order 9066 and the ensuing internment of hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese Americans. More than anything, the Student Leadership Academy program hopes to arm its 2016 class as well as all of tomorrow’s leaders with the lessons and examples of American leadership in the war that changed the world.
This post by Collin Makamson, Student Programs Coordinator at The National WWII Museum