Past Study Abroad Trips
China – Professor Ambuske & Professor Yu
Interdisciplinary Course: China: Tradition and Change
No longer the “Sleeping Dragon,” China is emerging from centuries of isolation. Even with 5,000 years of history, a revolution sending the reverberations throughout the world, an economy continuing to expand at over 8% a year, and the site of the 2008 Olympic Games, China remains for most Americans a giant enigma. This course examines the impact of transformational change on China and its people. We travel to Beijing, Xi’an (the ancient capital of China), Shanghai, Hangzhou (one of China’s most popular vocation destinations), and Xitang (a charming water town). In addition to visits to a variety of fascinating sites, students also have the opportunity for home stays, visits to multinational corporations, and Chinese schools. The course explores the rich traditions embedded in the mysteries of the Forbidden City, the contrived beauty of the Summer Place, the magnificence of the Great Wall, the splendor of the Terracotta Warriors, and the warmth of quaint neighborhoods and alleyways. We examine the stark contrasts to the traditional in the Pudong area of Shanghai, growing commercialization, and tourism.
Guatemala and Mexico – Professor Cunningham
Interdisciplinary Course: Marginalized Voices of Mexico and Central America
Traveling to Central American countries like Guatemala or El Salvador, or to the southern state of Chiapas in Mexico, and encountering marginalized people helps those of us living in the First World to clarify our values. Two-thirds of the world’s population lives outside the power structures-which means they are poor and lacking in many basic living necessities. Civil wars and governmental violence have contributed to the repression. Yet these people’s personal stories reflect courage, faith, generosity and hope in far greater proportion than we daily experience in our affluent society. This study abroad trip challenges us to examine universal human rights and our responsibilities to work for a more just world.
“My two study-abroad trips through Hiram College were like book-ends as part of my undergraduate studies. The first time I took the “Marginalized Voices of Mexico and Central America” we traveled to Mexico. Then I designed my independent major of Social Justice. The second time I took the class as a senior and our travels brought me to Guatemala and El Salvador.”
– Patrice Powers-Barker, class of 1997
Another student wrote: “From our teachers, the citizens of Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala, we learned about liberation theology, strong Christian faith, history of civil wars and the struggle for liberty. It is important not to romanticize poverty. In addition to not having enough money, food, or other resources, people in poverty also have annoying neighbors, difficult choices, irritable children and all the other “regular” human problems. On the other hand, I have enough food and a safe home and I can emulate the same hospitality that was extended to me over and over, even when it appeared that the family had nothing to give. One other image which stays in my mind is the squatters’ settlement of shacks built along the railroad next to beautiful, fuchsia flowers blooming in spite of the depressive housing. This experience taught me to always keep faith and search for the hope and beauty that can exist within my perceived darkness and desperation of different situations.”