By J.B. UPSHAW
and Amanda Castro-Crist
After 10 days on the other side of the planet, the second group of Global Travel students has returned to Amarillo College to share its spring break experience in Italy.
“We were able to see and experience so very much over the week that there was definitely good value for the money,” said Susan Burgoon, an assistant biology professor. “The students were so excited and eager to do everything we did.”
The trip, which lasted from March 12 to March 21 and included stops in Venice, Florence, Assisi, Rome, Capri and Pompeii, was offered to all faculty and students as part of the newly formed Global Competency program. This second year the trip has been offered included 19 students and five faculty members.
“It was a great group to travel with, and we all bonded in so many ways,” Burgoon said. “We will share the memories for a lifetime.”
Before the trip, the class met each week as a whole group or in smaller groups where faculty members mentored students as they researched topics of interest related to their majors and then presented them to the rest of the group.
Visiting the country brought the research to life for the students and faculty. Talia Crist, a theater major, was particularly impressed by the performances they attended.
“Getting to see two vastly different shows in Italy was an experience that I am incredibly grateful for, because it gave me a different viewpoint on my career choice,” Crist said. “Being able to see how they presented their stories and the emphasis they put on the settings and ambiance of the show gave me new ideas and new passion to put into my own performances that I am excited to share.”
Students said they learned a lot on the trip, more than they could learn in a classroom.
“This is fieldwork at its best,” Burgoon said.
The trip also gave students an opportunity for once-in-a-lifetime experiences among culturally rich and historic sites.
“My favorite part of the trip was climbing the 400-plus steps to the top of the Duomo in Florence, where we saw a spectacular view of the city,” social work major Leah Foster said.
“I am happy I got to experience it.”
The travelers also said they enjoyed their days among the locals and other travelers in each of the cities they visited.
“Traveling is important because you get to be immersed in a culture other than your own and experience that lifestyle,” Foster said. “Your awareness about how your country is
different and/or similar to another is expanded, and you realize that there is no better way to educate yourself about a country than to learn about it first hand by traveling.”
Stephanie Mendoza, a bilingual education major and Presidential Scholar who has traveled with AC to Cambodia, among other places, agreed. She said her time at AC has opened the door to a lifetime of travel and that she plans to learn a variety of languages and continue her education overseas.
“The best way to experience culture is to live it.” Mendoza said. “I have been blessed to be able to travel with Amarillo College for these past two years, and I can honestly say it’s been two of the most amazing years and memories I’ll keep for a lifetime.”
The group will spend the remainder of the semester working on capstone projects that will be showcased at a campuswide discussion panel at noon April 27 in the Oak Room on the second floor of the CUB on the Washington Street Campus. The 2016 destination will be announced at the end of the event.
On May 6 and May 7, the travelers will present their projects as part of the Honors Convocation in the first floor lobby of Parcells Hall on the Washington Street Campus.
Travelers share more thoughts
“The experience of discovery and learning with such a terrific representation of Amarillo College students was beyond anything I could’ve hoped for.”
Ray Newburg, assistant professor, theater
“I loved getting to go out of the country. Nothing like it.”
Madison Spitler, dental hygiene
“We left as strangers and came back as family. We saw some of the most beautiful creations in the world, whether manmade or otherwise. It’s a journey I’ll never forget.”
Wes Hawkins, history
“AC students should travel because it broadens their horizons. They end up finding a new side of themselves, get to experience something different. Home is always good, but experiencing the big world we live in is an invaluable opportunity.”
Andrew Alexander, mass media
“I learned that the world really is accessible, that you can reach out and touch actual history and that art means something important to the world. I also learned that gelato is pretty freakin’ delicious.”
Karly McCutchan, graphic design
“I learned that you should never make excuses to not live your life to the fullest potential. I found myself telling myself to do fun things I normally wouldn’t on the trip ‘because I’m in Italy.’ But you should live your life happily and full-heartedly even when you’re in your daily routine. The trip definitely made me rethink the meaning of life.”
Katelin Carter, education
“I find it incredibly interesting to think that the people in Italy will continue to live their lives like we were never there. The experience inspired me to make an impact on the world beyond my own little bubble.”
Kyle Freeman, biology
“I am so grateful that Amarillo College is able to offer this opportunity to our students. International travel is more than educational … it changes opinions, it broadens horizons, it expands knowledge, understanding and tolerance. This experience was truly transformational.”
Heather Atchley, director of Student Life
“During our trip to Italy, I had an amazing experience in the town of Assisi. Three of us went to a scarf shop. The person working there spoke no English, and our Italian knowledge was essentially limited to please and thank you. However, I was able to break the language barrier! She spoke in Italian, and I spoke in Spanish. Since both languages are Latin based, we were able to understand each other enough to get the message across.”
Paola Estrada, biology
“Amarillo College’s Global Travel Experience is amazing! In Italy we walked the foundations where art and governments were formed and were awed by the magnificence of antiquity and culture. My wish is for every student to take advantage of this incredible program.”
Judy Carter, Honors Program coordinator
“When I was 8, my family traveled to Italy. I have very vague and fuzzy memories about this trip because, honestly, I was much too young to understand how grandiose and amazing Italy truly is. I set foot in Italy this year and immediately thought, ‘I am standing where the Roman Empire once ruled.’ Everything about the country – the history, the landscape, the people, the food and the atmosphere – is entirely different than anything I’ve ever experienced, and it was quite overwhelming most of the time, but in a deeply wonderful way. Now that I’ve seen and understand how vastly different this one country is from my home, I am, for lack of a better phrase, thirsty for more. My experience in Italy only scratched the surface of all I can know and accomplish, and I am ready to continue my world travel and expand my education.”
Brianna Hinders, English
“It is important to travel so you can become more culturally sensitive, which is key to our globalizing world. Also, traveling provides a learning experience about places and history while offering us new and exciting experiences. When traveling, you have the opportunity to get lost and face fears of the unknown. It also allows you to get to know yourself better.”
Lauren Johnson, food service management
“Traveling is important because I believe it is so necessary for every young person to experience the world for themselves before they begin to make decisions about what they want to do with their lives. There are a million different places to see and a million different things to do. I could not ever imagine living my life on only one continent. On this trip I’ve learned how new our nation is compared to some other places on this map of ours. Every day we go about our lives not paying much attention. In Italy, everywhere you turn there is so much history in every brick and doorway, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed! Students in general, whether they feel like they want to travel or not, in somewhere so small like Amarillo, we need every ounce of culture and knowledge we can get. My favorite part of the entire trip was the fact that everywhere we went, all we heard were different languages in the air. People from all over the world had traveled there, just like us, to see the same pieces of art we were. I thought it was absolutely amazing!”
Emily Henriquez, social work
“This was my second time traveling overseas with AC, and I found myself realizing all over again just how much I need to get out and see the world. I love that people are so very different and yet so very much the same all at the same time. We’re all just trying to make it, just trying to deal, just trying to live. If we all just made the effort to understand each other every day (instead of just when we’re immersed in the unknown), the world would be a better place indeed.”
Amanda Castro-Crist, mass media