Over spring break a group from Texas Wesleyan University received credit for their history, religion or humanities classes not by sitting behind a desk, but by getting on a plane and experiencing new cultures firsthand.
Dr. Jesse Sowell, professor of religion, took a group of students on a life-changing learning experience to explore the culture starting in Wales and later in London. Sowell said on this trip they try to combine hearing, reading and sight to get the most out of this learning experience.
“You remember a certain percentage of what you hear,” Sowell said. “You remember a certain percentage of what you read. But you remember far more of what you see, and if you can combine what you see and hear and read about, you retain more of that than anything else.”
Sowell said before they went to London they went to Liverpool and saw where the Beatles got their start, saw the Roman baths from when the Romans ruled Great Britain, and saw the sire of the investiture of the Prince of Wales, and saw Stonehenge. Sowell said they toured six castles while visiting and had a medieval dinner in one castle where two students were named Baron and Baroness of the castle for the evening.
Sowell said in London they toured the city, visited the British Museum, saw theater shows, and some went on the Wesleyan Heritage Walking Tour.
“A bunch of the students got their pictures taken at Platform 9 ¾ , pushing a shopping cart into the wall,” Sowell said.
Sowell said he is retiring after this semester and said this is one of the best groups he has taken out of the nearly 40 trips he has made.
“For me a favorite is to try and see students try new things,” Sowell said. “And watch students kind of come out of their comfort zone in terms of what they eat, and try new things and find out that new things, and just because they’re different doesn’t mean they’re not good.”
Samantha Max, junior English major, said she went on the trip because she is a religion minor and because she had never been overseas before. Max said she enjoyed touring the castles because they were different than what is seen in books and pictures.
“We got to see several castles, like real medieval castles,” Max said. “And they were so awesome because they were so well-preserved. And we got to actually go up inside the towers and see everything.”
Max said that they learned about the religious history of Wales and went on the Wesleyan Heritage Walking Tour in London.
“I was studying the history of Methodism,” Max said. “So we went to John Wesley’s house, and actually walked inside his house. They had his robes that he actually wore when he was a preacher, which was really cool.”
Max said she got her picture taken at Platform 9 ¾ which was actually in the subway between platform 9 and 10. Max said she also went to The Phantom of the Opera live in London which was an incredible experience.
“I saw Phantom of the Opera,” Max said. “And there were no words to explain. People were crying at the end because it was so good.”
Sydney Wilson, junior history with a secondary certification major, said she had wanted to study abroad since her sophomore year of high school, especially in England. Wilson said she signed up for the trip and because of a scholarship she was able to go.
“It [the trip] was magnificent,” Wilson said. “It was the best trip that I’ve been on. And now I am seriously considering going to Wales for graduate school because I enjoyed it so much.”
Wilson said she enjoyed learning about the new cultures and experiencing life outside of the American way. Wilson said she liked seeing everything, but she liked seeing an original copy of the Magna Carta most of all.
“Because I’m a history major I really did enjoy seeing the Magna Carta because so much of our government and England’s government is based off of the Magna Carta,” Wilson said.
Wilson said some people who refuse to try new food or observe a different cultures than the American way could miss out on the experience.
“Make sure that if you do go out of the country, make sure that you are open-minded,” Wilson said.