Eleven honor students from Southwestern Adventist University traveled to France from May 6-19 to experience the art, history and architecture of Paris.
An extension of SWAU’s spring 2019 class “American Writers in Paris,” the trip featured “literary walks” with visits to the homes and communities of Modernist writers like Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway. Students also visited the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Monet’s Gardens in Giverny and Versailles, among other famous sites.
The recent tour in Paris is just one of many trips the honors program has sponsored. Every spring, SWAU offers a “travel class” for honors students that meets during the semester. Then, in the summer, students take a two-week trip to extend classroom learning. Destinations alternate each year between international and domestic trips and depend on the content being taught in the spring course, which regularly rotates between disciplines.
This year, semi-retired SWAU English professor Judy Laue, taught “American Writers in Paris” for the third time.
“This year, we had seven sessions in the spring semester [more than usual], and my students got a lot of the class work done before the trip,” Laue said. “I always do the two literary walks, but this year I knew everyone had read the works, so the tours meant so much more.”
SWAU sophomore English major and lifelong bibliophile Jaclyn Myers is one student who especially appreciated Laue’s connection of classroom learning with travel.
“Sometimes in the classroom, it is hard for me to imagine what places or people look like,” Myers said. “In class during the semester, we had been learning about these authors and their surroundings in Paris. Dr. Laue would tell us where Hemingway’s apartments were and where Sylvia Beach’s bookshop was. To me at the time they were just street names, but it became real when we went to Paris. Dr. Laue’s literary walks really brought to life everything we had learned in the class.”
Although this year’s trip was literature themed, English majors were not the only ones on the trip to Paris.
SWAU honors program coordinator Amy McHenry said the trip was filled with bonus moments and experiences that were not originally part of the itinerary, but that made classroom learning come alive.
One such moment for McHenry and the five biology majors on the trip was a visit to the Marie Curie Museum.
“It was very special for me as a female scientist to visit this place with my daughter,” McHenry said. “Marie Curie was also a scientist and working mom. She won two Nobel prizes, and her daughter won a Nobel prize as well. One female student told me she had tears in her eyes as she stood in Marie Curie’s office because it was so meaningful to stand there and think, ‘This is her office. This is her actual lab where she did her experiments.’ That’s an experience you just can’t get in the classroom.”
These real-world connections to the classroom are what make these trips so important to the honors program, a program which, like SWAU at large, seeks to understand the connection between knowledge, faith, and service.
“The purpose of growing academically is service,” McHenry said. “We want our students minds to be strong, so they can serve better.”
Like her honors students, McHenry is passionate about connecting classroom learning to the real world. When it comes to travel, she said that travel is a crucial part of SWAU’s honors program and the its mission of knowledge, faith and service. Travel helps students better understand the world they are seeking to serve.