Norwich Residency 2012

by Abigail Pfeiffer on June 20, 2012


I just spent the week at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont for the residency requirement for the Master in Arts in Military History. The campus is in the heart of the Green Mountains and is absolutely beautiful…..especially if you enjoy walking up and down stairs. The week culminated in our commencement ceremony. To your right is photographic evidence:

Since the program was done entirely online, I did not know my fellow classmates except for what I knew about them online. And that was that they all loved history, especially military history, as much as I do. So when I arrived on Sunday afternoon to check in and start my residency week, I pictured all my classmates to be a bunch of nerds who wore short sleeved dress shirts and glasses and only talked about history, and didn’t know how to have a good time. Well, as it turns out, I was wrong about everything. Except the nerd part. We all are a bunch of nerds. But cool nerds…..the types of nerds who have come to terms with their inner nerdiness.

Who would have known that a bunch of military historians could have so much fun! If you need lessons on how to party it up and have some fun, just contact some of us. We’ll put down the history books for a night and let our freak flags fly.

Jackman Hall, Norwich Campus

In all seriousness, residency week was an outstanding experience. I met the students I had interacted with for the last two years and put many faces to many names.  I met incredible teachers who have inspired me to teach history in ways that will connect with students, even with students who don’t like history. I can now confidently say I have a new group of friends that won’t roll their eyes and start yawning whenever I want to talk about the plight of prisoners of war or the social effects of the Vietnam War. I also have a new group of Facebook friends who post interesting historical posts on their feed, so now my feed isn’t full of people talking about their babies bodily functions and what they had for dinner last night (because who really cares?).

I got to learn what other students have written for their capstone (or master’s thesis, whatever you want to call it) and what parts of history they are passionate about. I presented my capstone work about Korean War POWs and Vietnam War POWs to our group and I was very happy with the reception I received. For those of you who took the time out to compliment my work, I thank you. For those of you who didn’t like and it and kept their comments to themselves, I also thank you.

Pondering deep thoughts in the Governor's chair

I got to spend a few hours in the capital of Vermont, Montpelier, which also happens to be the smallest state capital in the country, with a population of 8,000. Several other MMH students and I toured the capital building and sat in the Governor’s chair and pondered deep thoughts.

And I drank beer. Quite a bit at the pub on campus. I was not alone. Many interesting non-historical conversations were had at the campus pub and it’s nice to know that even though historians take their work seriously, we do know how to kick back, have a great time, and talk about other subjects.

So now that I am officially finished with graduate school, two feelings are at the forefront of my mind. First, utter relief. When I get home from work everyday I am able to do what I want to do, not what Norwich wants me to do. Second, there is a feeling of what’s next? Certainly the 2012 class of military historians will all go down their own paths. For this military historian, the path involves expanding my thesis into book form. I am attending the ex-Korean War POW reunion in July in Omaha where I hope to interview many more former POWs about their experience. Stay tuned to my blog for updates, video, and photos from the reunion.

But wherever our paths take us, we are all connected as part of the Norwich University Master of Arts in Military History class of 2012! Great work everyone, we earned it!

A large group of military historians

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jefferson Freedenburg June 20, 2012 at 8:10 am

Where’s the MMH link?

Abigail Pfeiffer June 20, 2012 at 8:11 am

The MMH link is embedded in the post in the first paragraph.

Craig Korte June 20, 2012 at 8:19 am

Thanks Abby, good assessment of the week and great ASAS of your fellow students and newly found friends.

David Thomas June 20, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Likewise, especially the “letting our freak flags fly” part.

Heather Salazar June 21, 2012 at 8:50 am

You captured the essence of the week Abby! Couldn’t have said it better myself. A group of friendships we all formed that will forever keep us united at Norwich MMH Class of 2012…and we sure did dominate!

Caleb Brotherton June 26, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Thank you Abby. Great summary and a great site.

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