Seventeen College of William and Mary students visited the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in Norfolk as part of the Pi Sigma Alpha outing. ACT is one of two strategic commands in NATO’s Command Structure.
“Every semester, Pi Sigma Alpha tries to do one trip to a place that government and political science majors will find interesting,” Nicky Bell ’12, president of the government honor society, said. “NATO ACT is located right in our region. William and Mary has a strong connection with NATO — we have an internship program with NATO in Brussels, and I myself interned with NATO in Brussels last summer — and so it seemed like an interesting perspective to get, both for students and for myself personally.”
Once on base, the group received briefings on the role of ACT, and discussed the changing world in terms of growing population and technological advances.
“The world is not an easier place to live in now than it used to be 100 years ago,” Academic Coordinator of the SIE branch Federico Casprini said. “If NATO wants to continue [to be] an important part of the world, it needs to adapt to it.”
Students were given the opportunity to ask questions at the end of each briefing.
“Being [a] European Studies [major], I’m pretty aware of how the European Union operates, but I was really interested in how that was affected by NATO, and what kind of overlap the two organizations had, so that’s what I was really going in for,” Monika Bernotas ’12 said. “I was especially interested in the organization with Russia, and how everyone has to agree on everything, which makes NATO kind of a hard organization to work with, I imagine, but at the same time, its goals seem to be very helpful.”
“Overall, it was a really rewarding experience to be able to visit a place where everything we’re learning is being put into practical application,” she said.
Question topics ran the gamut from the European financial crisis to nuclear proliferation. However, there was one question that made the whole room laugh.
“What’s it like to fly an F-22?” Harrison Roday ’13 asked Major General Mark Barrett.
“It’s pretty cool,” Barrett said. “That’s a really neat airplane.”