Fredericton Faculty of Arts

Learning Among the Battlefields of Italy Second World War Travel Study 2016

Author: Fredericton Arts

Posted on Jun 21, 2016

Category: News

Last month Drs. Cindy Brown and Lee Windsor led students on an immersive adventure back in time to study the Italian battlefields of World War II. Two Travel Study participants, Katelyn Kelly and Mark Symons, provided some first-hand feedback on their experience. Learn more about The Second World War in Italy Travel Study Program here.

cindy in cassino italylee in italy
Above left: Dr. Cindy Brown speaking in Cassino, Italy
Above Right: Dr. Lee Windsor giving a lecture in Paestum, Italy.
Photo credit: Norm Betts

KATELYN KELLY was born and raised in Fredericton. She just finished her third year of a Bachelor of Science program majoring in Psychology. Katelyn plans to take nursing once she has finished her current program.

katelyn pictured with soldier's grave
Pictured above: Katelyn Kelly with grave of soldier J.A. Arsenault.
Photo credit: Norm Betts

MARK SYMONS is originally from the small city of Martensville, Saskatchewan and came “out east” to UNB so he would be able to study at the Gregg Centre. He will be entering his second year in the Faculty of Arts at UNB Fredericton and plans to declare a major in history, with a focus in military studies.

mark in italy
Pictured above: Mark Symons, overlooking Rocca Albornoziana fortress in Spoleto, Italy.

Why did you decide to embark on the Italy Second World War Travel Study program?

KATELYN: I decided to go on the Italy WWII trip because I have always wanted to go to Europe and I thought this would be a great opportunity. I didn't know that much about the war before heading over so I also thought this would be a great chance to learn about our history. I wanted a change from a classroom setting environment and this was definitely the ticket.

MARK: Canadian military history is what I came to UNB to study, and I can’t image a better way to do so than the Italy travel study programme. I would consider myself reasonably knowledgeable about our nation’s contributions to the war effort, but the Italian Campaign was previously a serious gap in my knowledge. Sitting in a classroom listening to a lecture and looking at old photographs is one thing, but to actually be able to experience the historic sites themselves is really another. I believe participating in this program provided me a better understanding of the war in Italy than any textbook or classroom could.

Did the program relate to your studies at UNB?

MARK: This travel study ties directly into my degree programme.

KATELYN: This program did not relate to any other of my studies at UNB. This program benefited me by showing me a different outlook on life. One thing I learn a lot about in psychology is PTSD and after touring Italy and viewing what mental hurdles the soldiers went through I understand why this disorder is so common amongst them.

Tell us about one of your favourite experiences from the trip.

KATELYN: One of my favourite experiences from the trip would be learning about the Battle of Ortona. It was by far my favourite town we went to and it also held so much history. Ortona is known as one of Canada's most famous battles and after hearing different peoples stories and being welcomed with open arms by the whole town, I can see why. Getting to walk the streets and think like a soldier in this town was very cool and I loved every second of it.

MARK: My favourite parts of the trip were the field lectures from Dr. Windsor and Dr. Brown.  Whether we were on a sandy beach, a hilltop convent, or the tall grass of a forest, their lectures were always passionate and captivating. It was easy to get invested in the topic because you could see how much they cared for the subject they were presenting. I’m sure the location helped, but the lectures I received on this trip were by far the most interesting and educational I have experienced. 

What advice might you give to other students considering Travel Study?

MARK: Go into this trip with as much of an open mind as you can about everything. I began the trip knowing absolutely no one at all, and left with a bunch of great friends. When I started I knew very little about the Italian Campaign, but it didn’t matter as the course was highly accessible. Dr. Windsor and Dr. Brown make it impossible not to learn and care about what’s around you in the environment (regardless of prior knowledge base) - all you have to do is listen.  Many of the people who came on this trip were not history students, or even Arts students, but I believe they got just as much out of this trip as I did.  Apply for all the scholarships and bursaries you can and take the programme if you can afford it if you’re at all interested in military history. I’m sure this programme will be among the brightest highlights of my time at UNB.

KATELYN: Do it. You won't regret it. Cindy and Lee are two of the best professors I have ever had. They welcome everyone on the trip, from people with little knowledge about the war to veterans and make sure everyones experience is a good one. Be prepared for all weather types, to walk a lot, to view amazing mountain top views, drink some wine and to make some great friends along the way!

Second World War Italy Travel Study Class 2016
Photo credit: Norm Betts