Westminster Travel Courses Take Students Around the World
This May, Westminster offered four courses that gave 40 students and seven professors the opportunity to travel the world. The courses offered included a biology course in Belize, a history course in Germany, a transnational studies course in China and Mongolia, and a geology course in the American West. Each class allowed students to see their studies come to life outside the classroom.
“Although learning about Berlin’s tumultuous past was interesting enough, having the opportunity to go visit some of the landmarks we talked about is what really cemented the knowledge for me. Being able to see the Brandenburg Gate and walk over where the Berlin Wall used to stand provides so much more perspective on history than a textbook ever could,” said Kathleen McKinney ’13. “I had traveled to Germany previously on my own, but having the support and guidance of Westminster professors made for a much more impactful trip.”
Senior Kelli McKinley, who traveled on the Asia trip, said she had a similar experience. “It helped me learn so much more about the culture and people that we visited than I could have ever learned through reading textbooks or watching movies. It was a truly unforgettable experience.”
Travel courses are not always international. Dr. Alan Goldin took his geology course on a road trip through Utah, Nevada, and California. “Learning in the outdoors is an entirely different experience,” said Alex Meyer ’14. “I remember stopping in Yosemite on the way back from a hike up a waterfall and Dr. Goldin pointing out a large boulder with several kinds of plants on it. ‘That is a really good example of primary succession!’, he said excitedly, proceeding to explain the concept to us. You could see exactly how a process like that happens in the real world and the context in which it happens. This was much better way of learning than looking at a power point or listening to a lecture.”
But the trips did more than enhance their studies, said Kristen Fisher ’14, who traveled on the Belize trip. “Our experience in Belize has empowered us to travel anywhere we want to go, ask questions about the way other people live, question the way we live, and to ultimately learn from these different cultures and share the best of ours.”
For Lance Coursey ’14, traveling to Berlin was his chance to understand what his international friends at Westminster go through everyday. “Meeting different people and conversing about global affairs was a big deal for me. Many of my friends at Westminster are international, but, for the first time in my life, I was the outsider in a new country.”
Watch the video above to learn more about these courses’ adventures. Visit our story on the Belize trip for more on the biologists’ travels and check out what one Westminster student had to say about his excursion in China.