By Gary Leiker
On November 1, a select group of Southeast sophomores, juniors, and seniors participated in the White House Decision Center at the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri. The decision center is a role-playing simulation where students confront one of five challenges Harry Truman faced while President of the United States. This year’s decision dealt with the Berlin Airlift of 1947-48.
Prior to their trip to the Truman Library, students attended meetings where they learned about the responsibilities of the president and his many advisors, how to analyze primary source documents, and how to make decisions using a decision-making matrix. At the Truman Library, students read through a wealth of declassified documents about the Soviet Union’s blockade of Berlin, and then they came up with ideas for how the United States should respond. After a press briefing where several students spoke to the press about the crisis, President Truman met with his advisors where these groups debated what the United States should do about the blockade. The White House Decision Center then culminated with a press conference where President Truman announced his decision, and then answered questions from the press. Students then took a brief tour of the presidential museum before returning home.
We had a pretty young group of students participating in Truman Group this year. For most of the students, this was their first time at the White House Decision Center. Judging by their reaction, they really enjoyed the experience. They really got into their roles and they all did a great job of gathering information to advise their president. The press briefings were extremely lively and a lot of fun to watch. I’m already looking forward to what this group will do next year.