#BakerTravels: Travel interterms offer adventures


Associate Professor of History Leonard Ortiz and his students on the Yucatan, Mexico, travel interterm in January. Photo courtesy Logan Pope

Story by Lily Stephens, Writer

During interterm, Baker students had the opportunity to visit Hawaii, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Uganda, Honduras or Mexico, while others traveled locally to study religious sites.

Each trip had an educational theme on which the excursions and activities were based. Some of the trips were solely about learning and observing other cultures.

Those who traveled to Thailand with Minister to the University Kevin Hopkins explored holy temples in Bangkok and then held a vacation Bible school. Hopkins said that one of his favorite memories from the trip was “watching how all the young children gravitated to [the Baker] students” during the vacation Bible school sessions.

In Hawaii, freshman Annie Schmucker learned how to geocache for the first time.

“I think it’s something new that a lot of people haven’t done before,” Schmucker said.

Students on the United Kingdom trip learned about the history of science. They spent time visiting British museums and exploring London.

“We visited Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and [Westminster] Abbey,” freshman Jordan Heinrick said.

In Uganda, students observed and learned about the nature of developing countries. They visited schools and villages and explored the African savanna on a safari.

Sophomore Mitchell Lierz said that for American students who are able to attend a university, it is particularly interesting to observe a developing country.

The group in Honduras scuba dived and learned about local sea life. Sophomore Anna Eichten became a certified scuba diver.

“Saw some pretty neat things – barracudas and some stingrays,” Eichten said.

In Mexico, students learned about Mexican culture and some of the first Mexican people, the Mayans.

“We were able to experience first-hand how they lived while getting insight to their culture and civilization,” sophomore Olivia Brees said.

Not only does Baker offer interterm courses that take students to places far away from Baldwin City, there are also courses that incorporate local travel into the curriculum.

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Pumphrey taught a class that analyzed the differences and similarities between sacred spaces associated with various religions.

They traveled to Kansas City to see multiple cathedrals, a Hindu temple and some Mormon temples. In Independence, Missouri, they visited Community of Christ Church. They also traveled to Topeka to sit in on an Islamic service and drove by the Westboro Baptist church.

Freshman Amelia Hoelting took the course and now has a new appreciation for all there is to explore only a short distance from Baldwin City.

“It may not be for everyone, to go wander around churches and sit in on unfamiliar religious services, but it opened my eyes to a lot more than sitting outside by a lake. There is so much to be said about how different religions create and fill spaces for their own form of worship,” Hoelting said.

Most students who traveled during interterm thought that they learned things that are difficult to understand in a classroom.

Travel allows students “to see a culture that is outside your comfort zone and helps you be more in tune with the world around you,” Schumucker said.