By Alvin Fowlkes, Business Faculty Member and Study Abroad Coordinator
Education doesn’t always take place in a classroom. Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” I couldn’t agree more. By traveling the world, you are able to see and learn things firsthand and immerse yourself in the diversity and richness of the culture.
ECPI University’s Study Abroad Program allows students to do just that while increasing their confidence and competence about the world around them through language and cultural immersion. In October 2017, the Study Abroad program traveled to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. This was truly a rich and unforgettable experience for all of our 20 travelers.
In Vietnam, we were able to see things that most people have only read about or seen on TV; we toured Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) and experienced the hustle and bustle of the morning commute of 8 million people, most of them on motorbikes. We visited the Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, and crawled through the Vietnam War Cu Chi Tunnels. We visited the Mekong Delta, and ThoiSon Island where we were able to try coconut candy, native fruits, and honey tea, all while listening to music native to their culture; we topped off the visit with a breathtaking jungle cruise down the Mekong River.
We then flew to Siem Reap, Cambodia and took a cruise on Tonle Sap Lake. We visited the floating villages along the river which was capped off with an incredible sunset at Angkor Wat that you really had to see to believe. Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Cambodia that dates back to the 12th century and is the largest religious monument in the world. We also ate some of the most amazing food in Cambodia and our culinary students had an opportunity to meet the chefs where we had lunch.
From there, we crossed the border into Bangkok, the capital and most populous city in Thailand. This country is home to some of the most ornate handcrafted temples anywhere in the world; we went to the Temple of the Golden Buddha where the seated Buddha is made of solid gold and weighs five tons, and then to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha where its Buddha is layered in gold leaf and measures 151 feet from head to toe.
We stopped by the River Kwai Bridge and rode on the Burma Railway, also known as the “death train.” We toured historical Kanchanaburi and the War Cemetery, and then had a traditional Thai dinner complete with a dancing and musical exhibition. Before leaving, we actually had the opportunity to ride elephants; an experience that none of us will ever forget. We witnessed so much history and culture in one trip. This was a tremendous experience and my hope is that more students take advantage of this opportunity.
This October, we are traveling to Italy which promises to be yet another experience of a lifetime. All students and alumni, as well as their family and friends are eligible to go on the trip. So, get your passport and let’s start traveling. For more information, please contact me via email at [email protected] for more information and details. The world is waiting on you. Let’s see it together.