During the spring semester, the Amarillo College Honors Program took an international trip to Cambodia.
The group included 12 presidential scholars, Honors Coordinator Judy Carter, new AC President Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart and PBS videographer Jackie Smith.
The trip was inspired by AC’s Common Reader, Wine to Water, by Doc Hendley, so students could see the direct effects of what clean drinking water can do for those who have not had access to it.
Scholars worked with Rural Development International Cambodia RDIC to learn how to create clean-water solutions.
Each scholar also spent time before the trip researching Cambodian ways of life that pertained to their majors.
“We had many opportunities to ‘give’ during the trip, but how many opportunities to bless?” said Andrew Akins, piano major.
Students were able to see life through a new perspective.
“After meeting John (director of RDIC) and Dr. Beal Richner (founder of Cambodian Children’s Hospital), it occurred to me that the best way to bless someone is to do active things such as teaching a community how to maintain clean water or promoting justice by giving free hospitalization to those who can’t afford it,” Akins said.
Phnom Penh and surrounding villages and areas in the Angkor Wat region were some of the places visited. Thailand originally was part of the schedule, but shortly after the group reached Cambodia, Thailand fell under martial law.
The night before they were to fly to Bangkok, there was a military coup.
Plans were changed, and the scholars spent the remaining days in Cambodia, where they were able to ride elephants.
“Throughout our stay in Cambodia, I was forced to look outside of my perspective,” said Hannah Lang, a general studies major. “Seeing a different culture, area, religion and ideology opened my eyes to the fact that people can think differently and still respect one another.”
Some of the AC Honors Program’s plans for the upcoming year include a trip to Nepal and India as well as a trip to Italy.
Carter said Lowery-Hart will not make those trips because he is getting adjusted to his new position as AC president.
Lowery-Hart said vice president of student services Bob Austin will accompany the students to Nepal and India. He said it’s a chance for other faculty members to participate in travel.