Foreign travel places students face to face with other cultures

Darcie Walkes

Darcie Walkes

“Foreign travel helps people grow in many ways?it’s a personally developing experience,” said Richard Tooke, Spanish professor and coordinator of the Ecuador summer exchange trip.

The Spanish Department’s trip to Ecuador and the French Department’s trip to France are two travel abroad opportunities students this summer.

Tooke is coordinating the trip to Ecuador for May 19 through June 17. Students will live with host families in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. On weekends, they will partake in educational trips, touring the mountains, ecological reserves and ranches.

The one-month excursion offers students a chance to travel and tour while they gain six credits.

Four of the credits are gained through morning instruction on campus. Students acquire the other two credits in afternoon activities, such as touring museums and colonial landmarks, as well as writing reflection papers for Tooke.

Tooke is not a stranger to the travel industry. He was an exchange student himself. Tooke also lived in Ecuador for two years and Chile for four years. He said foreign travel is beneficial to the students and encourages that more students take advantage of the opportunities.

“I would want [the students] to try to make a connection as to how it will fit into their personal and professional goals. It will give them an experience they couldn’t possibly get from just traveling in the U.S,” Tooke said.

Junior Alexia Crewson plans to take part in this summer’s adventure to Ecuador.

This will be her third exchange trip. Crewson traveled to Spain for a month of study during high school. Last year, she attended college in Vancouver, Canada, through the National Student Exchange Program.

The opportunity to meet new friends is Crewson’s number-one highlight.

“I have come out of all of my trips and travel with so many friends. In a way, I could pick almost any country in the world, and I would know of someone from there,” Crewson said.

Traveling also makes Crewson more aware of cultures.

“Learning of their cultures makes me have an appreciation for mine. I feel like every time I leave some place, I’ve grown and become a better person,” Crewson said.

The cost of the trip is about $3,000. This includes room and board, tuition and books, weekend excursions and airfare.

“I guess the money might be a drawback for some people,” she said. “I am willing to be one of those people who would sell their car to go on a trip. This is so much more than a money issue. A lot of people look at the cost, but once you go there and experience it, it is worth every single penny.”

The exchange trip to France coordinated by French professor Marie-Pierre Baggett, is similar to the trip to Ecuador. The trip costs about $3,000 to $3,500. This includes tuition, airfare and food and lodging.

Baggett, born and raised in France, urges students to apply for this travel opportunity even if they are not familiar with the French language.

“It is a great opportunity to learn cultures, as well as learn about yourself,” she said.

The trip is scheduled for the last weekend in May and the first three weekends in June and offers students a chance to earn six credits while travelling abroad.

Students stay in a dorm in south central France for the first week. The last three weeks, students stay on campus at the Institut International de Rambouillet, close to Paris.

The first week involves sight-seeing adventures to different cities and museums. For the following three weeks, the students have the opportunity to explore Paris on their open weekends.

Jessica Hopkins, a senior broadcast journalism and French major, took part in the exchange trip last summer. She encourages students to take advantage of travelling opportunities.

“I wouldn’t hesitate about it,” she said. “In the end it will be worth it. I think a lot of people hesitate about the expense. Leaving the U.S. is a bit intimidating too.”

Hopkins feels that the benefits of travelling abroad outweigh the drawbacks. “We got to meet people from all over the world,” Hopkins said.

She enjoyed the chance to practice French and experience the French culture and environment. She hopes to return to France again some day.

It’s not too late to apply for these summer educational opportunities. Deadlines for these trips are early February.

If interested in travelling to Ecuador, contact Tooke at 688-5700 or e-mail him at [email protected] He recommends that students have at least a semester, preferably a year, of experience in Spanish language classes, as very little English is used in Ecuador.

Contact Baggett at 688-4278 or e-mail her at [email protected] for more information about the trip to France.