MCLA students and faculty are gearing up for another year of travel courses and studying abroad.
This spring students have the opportunity to travel to Peru, Japan, South Africa, Hawaii, and Belize for a spring break trip. Group trips will be finalized later this month to make time for logistical and financial planning.
For the first three trips, students take an on-campus course before spending approximately 10 days in the country that they studied.
“This is first and foremost an educational experience where students are gaining some expertise before traveling with faculty members who have extensive experience with the country being visited. Faculty leaders also recognize that many students are understandably drawn to big-name tourist destinations, such as Machu Picchu. We often visit these places and use class content and local expertise to help make the visits as educational as possible.” said Dave Cupery, Ph.D., associate professor of political science at MCLA.
MCLA offers an average of four to five travel courses each year, with an average of ten to twelve participants per course. Student participants come from a variety of majors and backgrounds, but a large majority see the experience as very important for them, personally and professionally.
Sabrina Superneau-Gilman ‘18 participated in three different travel abroad trips during her time at MCLA including Peru, Saint John, USVI, and Haiti. She explained that those experiences influenced how she perceives the world today.
“I am a firm believer in the power of education through experience,” she said. “I would say that my time in Haiti was most transformative, as it solidified my goal to pursue medicine as well as inspired me to expand my understanding of happiness. Every moment spent on these trips was impactful and valuable. I am immensely grateful for the education I gained through my time as a student at MCLA and would definitely recommend taking a travel course.”
Each trip allowed Superneau-Gilman to discover new things. In Peru, the group explored the sacred history of the Incan culture and exposed students to world-renowned architecture. In Saint John, Superneau-Gilman was able to conduct field research and gather data first-hand.
“Being able to design a research topic and gather the required data with my own observation was an experience that brought me closer to understanding the scientific method and how I approach research today,” she said.
For this first time, students will travel to Hawaii and take the course Hawaii and Cultural Tourism taught by Dr. Jerome Socolof. This travel course is fully funded through the Milton and Dorothy Sarnoff Raymond Foundation with the travel, room, and board expenses covered. Dr. Socolof said the application is competitive and more than twice as many applications were received than what could be accepted.
All travel courses are offered within the respective spring semester course, with the exception of Belize. Students interested in traveling to Belize should contact Spencer Moser at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found here: bit.ly/3TY57AJ.
Travel Course Options
Peru: Taught by Dr. David Cupery
● Two days touring the islands of Lake Titicaca
● Homestay with families in a traditional indigenous community
● Visit Machu Picchu and other Incan archaeological sites
● Hike in the Andes Mountains
Japan: Taught by Dr. Kailai Huang
● Visit Tokyo and the ancient capital of Kyoto
● Experience the city of Hiroshima
● Learn about Japan’s history, religion, culture, and society
South Africa: Taught by Dr. Anna Jaysane-Darr
● Learn about South Africa post-apartheid
● Visit historical sites and museums
● Meet activists, artists, and entrepreneurs who are transforming urban Africa
● Swim with penguins, travel up Table Mountain, and experience indigenous land
Hawaii: Taught by Dr. Jerome Socolof
● Explore the role of cultural tourism and preservation of “authenticity”
● Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center and Hawaii State Art Museum
● Dig into the colonial history of the Dole Plantation and Pearl Harbor
Belize: Alternative Spring Break trip led by Spencer Moser
● Partake in a community service project
● Explore Mayan caves and temples
● Canoe a tropical river and swim in the coral reef
● Discover the Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary