Students Share International Travel Experiences
DuBois –Penn State DuBois students who traveled to Spain this semester recently shared their experiences with the campus community. During a luncheon event, the students spoke about their trip, what they learned, and presented videos they produced featuring the areas of Spain that they visited.
In all, a group of 40 students, faculty, and staff made the trip. Of those participants, 23 came from Penn State DuBois, while students and faculty from other Penn State campuses rounded out the group. The trip was organized and led by Penn State DuBois Spanish Professor Deborah Gill.
"We always want to provide international opportunities and global experiences to all students," Gill said. "To understand a little bit about that country can help bring the classroom lessons home. This trip allowed students to see that Spain is a very diverse country, with a very diverse population, history and culture."
Gill explained that students saw, first hand, the cultural influences that have shaped modern-day Spain through the centuries. People of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian decent, Gill said, had major impacts on the country throughout its history. Signs of each influence were apparent at each site they visited in cities such as Toledo, Avila, Segovia, and Granada. Within these cities, students toured museums, local landmarks, and historic sites and buildings.
"It was a real eye opener getting a look into these different cultures," said student Morgan Lingle of DuBois. "It made me so much more aware of how they live. It made me see that we're all different, but not so different."
Student Nicholas Newsom of Washington, DC agreed, saying, "It was so rewarding getting to experience these different cultures. There are so many different and interesting types of people in the world."
Students shared specific examples of cultural experiences, like the opportunity to take in an authentic flamengo dance performance, and interactions with real modern-day gypsies on the streets of Spanish cities. They also had the chance to enhance their skill in Spanish by conversing with people who are native speakers of the language.
This experience was especially exciting for Penn State DuBois international student Angela Hu, from Beijing, China. She traveled internationally just to come to college, and now continues to visit new countries as part of her studies.
"It was definitely a once in a lifetime trip," Hu said.
Gill said that students self funded part of their travel expenses, but made it clear that such international learning experiences would not be possible without financial support from the Chancellor’s and Academic Affair’s offices as well as outside donors. Gifts made it possible for Gill to extend the itinerary on this trip to include the city of Granada, where students learned valuable lessons about Spain's cultural history.
"With those generous donations we were able to see Granada and do things we normally wouldn't have been able to do. Granada is where you really see the blending of major cultures," she said. "The impact these trips have on the students and their education is immeasurable. This was a really special trip, and the experience is just something they won't forget."
The students undoubtedly agree. Lingle commented, "I would do this trip all over again if I could. Everyone should go on a trip like this."
Students and faculty stand at the statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree, a Spanish national symbol, in Madrid.
Standing (Left to Right): Daniel McKeirnan, Dr. Pamela Hufnagel, Andrew Steffen, Morgan Lingle, Angela Hu, Darryl Beamon, Jacqueline Tynes, Tarah Trayer, Stephanie Baka, Kathleen Churico, Sara DiMattia, Kathleen DiMattia, Staci Neal, Kyle Bish, Richard Hanes, Jaci Gordon, Alyssa Pearsall
Kneeling (Left to Right): Brandon Longe, Nicholas Newsom