By TAYLOR RITTENHOUSE and BAILIE MYERS
Fourteen Presidential Scholars took a nine-day trip to China this summer. The group traveled 14,000 miles over the course of the trip.
“Because our AC Presidential Scholars are remarkable, our time in China was phenomenal,” said Judy Carter, honors program coordinator. “Our eyes were opened. Some myths fell away, and a greater appreciation for shared values emerged.”
Each Presidential Scholars trip involves a service component.
“While in China, the students volunteered at Sun Village, a home for children of incarcerated parents,” said Jill Gibson, honors co-coordinator.
Presidential Scholar Maison Kwapil was one of the volunteers.
“It was humbling knowing that here we think we have it bad sometimes, but you go there, and their parents are both in prison,” Kwapil said.
Before the trip, students were required to research historical figures and sites related to their majors, write papers and deliver oral presentations about the information they gathered.
During their time in China, the students learned from tutors, tour guides and docents.
They also wrote daily reflections about their experience.
“I learned that there is more out there than just Amarillo,” said Presidential Scholar Stephanie Mercado. “There is so much history behind everything. It’s different going there, and I remember more than if I would have read it in a book.”
In May, the Presidential Scholars will take another trip, this time to Cambodia.
During the trip, the students will help build water wells for families.
The trip is only for first-year Presidential Scholar students, and about 20 are expected to go.
Honor students have the option to self-enroll in an honors class, many of which are in high-demand subjects, or apply for admission into Presidential Scholars.
Students who are eligible for honors courses must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher or at least 90 percent out of high school.
Presidential Scholars is limited to 30 students. Each must complete a curriculum of four Presidential Scholars classes.
Presidential Scholars receive scholarships and incentives for participating as well as travel opportunities.
Other previous destinations have included London, Washington, D.C., and New York City.