Travel abroad opportunites are not rare for college students. There are opportunities to travel to places all over the world. But what some programs lack is the experience of being involved in service-learning projects. The same cannot be said for Amarillo College.
Nineteen students in the Presidential Scholars program and three faculty members will travel to India and Nepal during the Christmas break. They’ll visit Katmandu, Nepal, New and Old Delhi, India and Jaipur.
While in Nepal, the students will be part of a four-day service-learning project called PHASE Nepal.
According to phasenepal.org, the project specializes in improving health, education services and livelihood opportunities for disadvantaged populations in remote and resource -poor Himalayan mountain villages in Nepal. PHASE aims to support the most vulnerable people in breaking the cycle of poverty by assisting communities and local authorities to lay groundwork for a self-sufficient future.
Students and staff members began preparing early in the semester.
“No one in the group has ever been to India before”, said Judy Carter, honors program coordinator.
Everyone was required to obtain passports and visas for the trip.
Some of the travelers never have been on a plane before. Eddie Henderson, dean and professor in the College of Education and Social Sciences at West Texas A&M University, spoke to the students about different types of spices in the foods and how to stay well for the duration of the trip. Henderson’s knowledge of the customs and culture of the country comes from his numerous travels to India.
Christian Filsouf, a business administration major, said the students also have prepared by getting vaccinations and doing research projects over numerous topics related to Nepal and India. They also have studied the culture to learn how to be respectful to the residents.
“(I look forward to) being immersed in a culture completely different than anything else, and the enlightenment of getting out of our comfort zones,” he said.
Filsouf said he also looks forward to traveling with Bob Austin, vice president of student affairs. It will be the first time Austin, who took the place usually filled by Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, has accompanied the Scholars.
“(I expect) to get to know each of the students personally,” Austin said,
He said being able to see the Himalayas from 30,000 feet will be amazing.
Jordan Morris, an engineering major, said he’s looking forward to the trip because of the people he gets to travel with.
“This program has provided me that community to where I have this group of people,” Morris said. “I feel like I’ve made many more lifelong friends.”
The student cost of the trip is $500. The remaining cost is paid by donors and the program budgets, Carter said. Fund-raising also is available for students.
Carter said it is important for the college to fund travel.
“We are a more globally conscious generation and mindful of who we are and what we are about,” she said.