As the end of the school year approaches, students are focused on finals and their summer plans. Texas Tech professors have travel plans this summer that include study abroad courses and international research.
Joseph Hodes teaches politics and history classes at Tech. He has lived in both the Middle East and India and studied world religion, he said.
“This is my fourth year at Tech, and in my second year, I did the same trip that I’m doing this year,” he said.
The trip to Seville, Spain, spans for the month of July and brings 30 honors students into an immersive experience.
“Usually we have way more that want to go than we can accommodate,” he said. “We offer two courses, the summit course and the seminar.”
Hodes will teach the summit course called Christians, Jews, Muslims in Islamic Spain which spans over 700 years of history, he said.
“So as they walk around and see mosques and cathedrals and whatever, they’ve had lectures on them, so they know what they’re looking at,” he said.
The sensory input students experience during study abroad leaves a deep and meaningful impression, Hodes said.
“I think that travel is really the greatest education,” he said. “I think you learn more by being on the ground somewhere than you ever could in a classroom.”
Further, the group dynamic enhances the experience and empowers students to try new things, he said.
“For them, that’s like a really fun, exciting thing, but they also have a group who they’re doing it with,” he said. “It’s more fun in a way when you’ve got a group.”
Stefano D’Amico, professor in the Department of History, said he is traveling back to Milan, Italy, his home country, this summer to obtain sources for his research. He received a grant from Tech to conduct the research.
“I was born there, I grew up there, I had their archives next door, it was a different approach to research,” D’Amico said. “I could go there anytime, I actually almost went there every day.”
Organization is key to advancing his historical research, he said, because the sources are now across the Atlantic.
“It’s a matter of funding, of course, but it’s also a matter of time and (availability),” he said.
In the past, D’Amico has led summer study abroad trips in Italy along with his wife, Aliza Wong, an Italian history professor and the assistant dean to the Honors College.
D’Amico said he will probably visit Rome’s archives as well. His research is in women’s survival strategies during the Counter Reformation in Milan and will be compiled in his next book.
Kurt Caswell, professor in the Honors College, teaches English and literature, but in the summer, he teaches a Maymester course with 12 students and the Outdoor Pursuits director David Young.
This course takes students along the 1,000-year-old Camino pilgrimage route in Spain, a 200 mile journey which ends at the Cathedral of St. James in Santiago.
“We have walked a couple different routes so far, there’s a bunch of different routes to get there,” he said. “This (year) we are walking the Portuguese coastal route.”
The 200-mile trip is completed on foot in a short two weeks, Caswell said. The students keep a journal to record both what they see and how they feel during the walk.
“So the external is the observation of the place that we are traveling,” he said. “We are asking the students to pay attention to what is called the internal dialogue, so what is it they are telling themselves as they are walking.”
The students then share part of their journal entries with the group to express their findings, he said.
“The physical challenge opens up the emotional body, or who they really are as a person,” Caswell said.