By Joanna Sperapani
Elm Staff Writer
Whether it be hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, wandering through an old English castle, or learning to salsa in Havana, it seems that everyone who goes on a study abroad trip comes back with some unforgettable experience. Such is the case with the many students who have participated in events offered by Washington College. The most recent trips include the Tanzania, Kiplin Hall, and Cuba programs.
These programs range between one to three weeks, count for four academic credits, and are alternatives for those who do not want to go abroad for longer periods of time.Senior Megan Prokopius chose to go to Kiplin Hall because, she said, “I definitely wanted to do a study abroad trip, but I didn’t want to go for a full semester.”
The Tanzania Program, led by Dr. Tahir Shad, professor of political science and the international studies faculty advisor, takes students on a journey through the East African nation known for its spectacular wilderness and safari opportunities.
The trip is in its 11th year. Sophomore Deaven Maull took the trip this summer for the chance to see a
part of the world she might not have otherwise. She had the opportunity to go on safari. She said, “The best moment was when we first saw an elephant in the Serengeti. You kind of have an idea of what they look like, but when you really see one up close, it’s just this massive animal, and they don’t really know how beautiful they are. I think it was amazing just seeing all the different animals, because some of them might not be here in however many years.”
The trip takes students through the city of Arusha and gives them a chance to hike Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. The Tanzania trip also involves teaching opportunities and that shed light on the need for education in developing countries. Maull said, “We think life here is hard, but kids over there want an education so badly, and we complain about going to school, which they would kill to do.”
In 2017 the trip will be from May 21 to June 6, and information sessions will be held on Sept. 21 and 27 at 8 p.m., and Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. in Goldstein 207.
The Kiplin Hall Trip is led by Dr. Richard Gillin, professor of English literature and the director of the humanities program and his wife Barbara. Through this program, students attend historical English classes in the mornings, and travel to some of the most mesmerizing sites in Britain and Ireland in the afternoons, seeing the places that inspired the works they study.
Prokopius said, “I definitely wanted to go to England and Ireland, and it was available to everyone.” The trip includes hikes across the Helvellyn mountains and visits to sites such as York Minster Cathedral and the town of Robin Hood’s Bay. Prokopius found the hikes especially exhilarating. “It’s like going back in time, walking up these natural steps while you’re hiking.” Information about the upcoming Kiplin Hall program is not yet available, but will be announced soon.
The Cuban Experience is a trip focused on ethnomusicology, or the study of music in different cultures. The trip takes students through tours of Havana and Trinidad, including an exciting chance to learn about music such as salsa, timba, jazz, rumba, son, and Afro-cuban traditional music. Emma Way, class of 2016, said it was an easy choice to pick Cuba for her abroad experience because at the time, it was impossible to travel into the country from America except for educational purposes.
While this has since changed, the excitement of the Cuban Experience has not. Way said, “One of my favorite moments in Cuba was wandering the streets of Old Havana and stumbling upon a street performance group. On the Cuba trip, we were given a lot of freedom to explore and get to know the city on our own.”
The upcoming Cuban Experience will take place from Jan. 2 to 12. Although both interest meetings have passed, any student who wishes to learn about the specifics of the trip can contact Professor of Anthrolopolgy Aaron Lampman at email@example.com and Professor Kenneth Schweitzer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traveling abroad is an experience with many benefits. It can challenge one’s assumptions about other cultures, and can serve as an important learning experience about how similar people actually are. Way said, “Everyone, no matter what language you speak or religion you practice, understands a simple smile.”
Maull said, “Looking back on it, it was amazing. If you have a chance you should definitely see how people in other parts of the world live, anywhere you can.”
Some Travel Tips:
• Don’t be afraid to go on a trip without your friends. Maull said, “[The Tanzania Program] seemed really interesting and I didn’t know anyone else doing it, but I figured I should just put myself out there. I’m glad that I did.”
• Remember to pack light. Many countries have strict laws about how much you can bring. Don’t let the hassle of carrying around suitcases hurt your experience.
• Know that the new and potentially intimidating ventures that traveling brings are just a part of the journey. Way voiced this feeling, and said, “Whenever you travel, it is essential to be flexible. Travel is unpredictable, especially in countries like Cuba or Tanzania, and you may not always be in the nicest of accommodations. You just have to go with the flow and realize that one day it’ll make a great story.”