On Junior Journey, FSC Students Learn Through Travel

Apr 9, 2014

by Cary McMullen | Publications editor

As Willie Nelson’s song puts it, “Goin’ places that I’ve never been / Seein’ things that I may never see again…”

Every year as part of Junior Journey, FSC’s travel study option guaranteed to juniors and seniors, Florida Southern students head out on the road, bound for every part of the world, looking for adventure and experiences that expand their minds and souls. During the fall and spring breaks in 2013-2014, more than 320 students traveled to far-flung places from Hawaii to Scotland.

The trips combine study and recreation under the guidance of faculty advisors and may be taken during one-week semester breaks or during May Term or Summer Term. This academic year there were 21 destination options in 11 countries open to students, both inside and outside the United States.

For junior elementary education major Krystal Clarke, her destination during spring break might as well have been a foreign country. She and about 10 other students went with Assistant Professor of Biology Brittany Gasper to Hawaii, earning a credit in science as they explored plant and animal species at several exotic sites. Of course, there was time for recreational activities as well, such as a dinner cruise, mountain biking, and zip lining.

From their resort on Hawaii’s Kona coast, they snorkeled near humpback whales on a coral reef, visited a plantation where some of the world’s most expensive coffee is grown, and prowled through the lava tubes and rain forests of a volcano.

“We learned that 80 percent of the species on Hawaii are invasive. We were there for the botany, but we learned so much more. It was definitely engaged learning,” Clarke said. “It was educational but a lot of fun.”

Clarke said she drew one lesson from her Junior Journey that she will apply as an elementary school teacher.

“People learn best from first-hand experience. You don’t see students take field trips as often. As a teacher, I really want to be able to do that with my students,” she said.

Another elementary education student, junior Lauren Nash, went east on her fall break to Scotland, with a group led by Professor of Citrus Science Malcolm Manners. The group visited a couple of botanical gardens, but Nash says it was as much a historical and sightseeing trip.

“I fell in love with the idea of visiting Scotland as soon as I saw it was an option. It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go,” she said.

The group was based in Edinburgh and over the course of the week made a loop around Scotland, visiting places such as Inverness, Loch Ness, and the Isle of Skye. They saw Edinburgh Castle, the Bronze Age-era burial mounds at Clava, and visited Glencoe, where a highland clan was massacred by English soldiers in 1692.

Nash said the trip reinforced her desire to be a teacher for the U.S. Department of Defense, which operates schools at military bases around the world.

“It would be a chance to explore different parts of the world,” she said.

Although a freshman, Evan Boornazian decided not to wait to join a Junior Journey trip. He signed up to go with Assistant Professor of Business Administration Mike Knudstrup to Costa Rica over spring break. With a study component of examining a tourist economy, the group went to La Fortuna, a small resort town near the Arenal Volcano.

“We had to learn the currency and figure out how to make purchases and communicate with the local merchants,” Boornazian said. “It really was a taste of what another country is like. We saw a festival that was sort of like a local carnival on a small scale. It was a lot of fun.”

Arenal is one of the most active volcanoes in the world which during a 1968 eruption destroyed two villages. There are hot springs and waterways nearby that Boornazian describes as “a natural water park,” including a river that afforded white-water rafting. The group tried several activities, including zip-lining.

“The view flying over those trees was incredible. I’ll never forget it. There was not a dull moment on that trip,” he said.

Senior music education major Amanda Anderegg had a very different kind of experience on her spring break trip to New York with a group led by Associate Professor of Music Diane Stahl. On this cultural educational trip, the group visited art museums and attended Broadway musicals, an opera, and a concert by the New York Philharmonic.

“I had always dreamed of going to New York and exploring.” Anderegg said. “It was right up my alley.”

Among the highlights of the trip for Anderegg were seeing Wicked on Broadway – “a personal favorite” – and hearing the New York Philharmonic perform under its music director, Alan Gilbert. As a musician herself and an aspiring high school band director, Anderegg said she was impressed by the level of the performances and the discipline of the musicians.

“The culture there is so rich. Everyone in the city is so supportive of these cultural organizations. It was a fantastic experience,” she said.