Five first class midshipmen recently visited England on a Language Proficiency, Regional Expertise, and Cultural Awareness (LREC) trip as members of the Senior United Kingdom International Scholarship Program (UKISP).
They were led by Capt. David Williams, USMC, a Cambridge alumnus and a Political Science teacher at USNA. The five were thrilled to experience the opportunity to see a new culture, meet professors and visit multiple historical sites that bond the two countries.
The first stop on their journey was London. There, the midshipmen were able to explore a truly bustling cityscape, accentuated by a number of world class universities. During meetings with professors at King's College, LSE, UCL, SOAS, and Imperial College, the midshipmen were able to discuss the merits of various programs, as well as the benefits of attending graduate school in one of the world’s largest cities.
While in London, the midshipmen also had the fortune of visiting 10 Downing Street and Parliament, both at the heart of English governance.
Following their stop in London, the midshipmen boarded a train to begin their experience at Cambridge. Guided by Cambridge alumnus Capt. Williams, the group began the experience with a tour of St. John’s College, followed by a series of intellectually stimulating lectures by current students of various graduate programs.
For the next three days, time at Cambridge was spent exploring both the academic and social aspects of the university. Through meetings with their prospective departments, the midshipmen were able to gain a sense of the unique academic environment of Cambridge. Overall, while less lively than London, the midshipmen found Cambridge to be a beautiful and quaint university town.
The next stop for the midshipmen was the University of Oxford. They were fortunate enough to stay with two recent USNA alumni, Nick Stovall-Kurtz and Nate Bermel, who showed them their favorite spots around Oxford. They explored contemporary sculpture by Jeff Koons at the world-renowned Ashmolean Museum, ran through Port Meadow, and marveled at the neoclassical architecture of the Radcliffe Camera building.
A highlight of the trip was attending evensong and a formal dinner at Magdalen College with Nate Bermel, where they witnessed the traditions of Oxford and employed their etiquette training. Each midshipman conducted meetings with professors and learned more about the respective programs in which they are interested.
The midshipmen were able to visit the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst (RMAS) on their last day in country. RMAS trains officers for the British Army over the course of one year, focusing solely on the material germane for officership versus the degree program incorporated at USNA. The midshipmen were able to tour the base and speak with various officers and staff. Aligning the visit with a presentation by Major General Nanson, CBE, the Commandant of RMAS, as part of the speaker series of the Centre for Army Leadership, and the cadet’s Corps and Arms Day, a static display of the various Army Regiments possible to join after commissioning.
Some of the day’s other highlights included touring the base’s memorials to the Indian Army, foreign exchange students, and alumnus Winston Churchill, and visiting with various leadership professors to discuss the professional development program.
MIDN Juliet O’Brien said of the visit, “It was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the similarities and differences between our militaries. As officers we will be ambassadors of the US and understanding one another, both military and civilian, is the key to future relationships.”
Overall, the trip was the perfect balance of academic intensity and cultural immersion. The midshipmen were afforded the opportunity to explore their academic passions by meeting with current students and professors, engage in mil-mil ambassadorship at Sandhurst, and sample delicious local and foreign cuisine. They are grateful for the mentors and alumni who helped them prepare for and undertake this LREC. The five midshipmen now enter the busy application process with a better sense of their priorities and hopes for graduate school.