After 2 years of COVID delays, Presidential Scholars’ Poland trip gets green light
By Elizabeth Chunn
Poland, a country known for its vivid landscape and historic relevance to one of the world’s largest genocides in the 1940s, is the destination of choice for this year’s Presidential Scholar trip. Forty-five Amarillo College students plan to attend as part of their scholarship package.
“The Presidential Scholars are a group of students who meet exceptional academic criteria,” Lesley Ingham, AC’s honors coordinator, said. “Their scholarship package includes an all-expense paid trip overseas.”
Initially scheduled for spring of 2020, the Poland trip was postponed to March 2022 due to the emergence of COVID.
“We had to cancel the trip three days prior,” Ingham said. “Because the group from two years ago didn’t get to go, they are being invited back as alumni in addition to last year’s and this year’s students.”
The Poland trip will provide students with an itinerary rich experience through the exploration of Jewish museums, Polish cities and concentration camps, Ingham said. History will come to life with West Texas A&M’s history professor, Dr. Elizabeth Clark, as tour guide.
“We will spend time in the Kazimierz district, where half a millennium of Jewish history is written in the very stones,” Clark said. “Students will learn about the historical context of life in Poland from the 14th century to our common revolutionary heroes and the tragedies of World War II and communism.”
Bethany Shaeffer, a freshman biology major, said she is most excited to learn about the Jews and how they persevered through hardship. “Every story is not heroic, but they are all human stories,” Clark said.
Students will also explore Poland’s culture by tasting foreign cuisine. While tea and soup are Polish staples, Grant Miller, a business major, said he looks forward to a trying something unique.
“I like to try various combinations of sauces and sandwiches,” Miller, said. “I hear Poland cuisine is unique, and I am most excited about a tiny handheld baked potato with stuffed meet and cheese.”
Although feelings about the trip are overwhelmingly positive, some students are concerned for the possibility of getting sick despite vaccine requirements prior to travel. With COVID restrictions of wearing masks and testing, Clark said she still hopes students will learn the joys of traveling abroad.
“Ever since hearing about Lewis and Clark in elementary school and reading the bible, I’ve always hoped to travel,” Miller said. “Meeting different people in different places gets my blood pumping. It’s a dream come true.”