Students travel the world during summer

Travis Perry

As technology continues to grow and the world seems to get smaller by the day, developing a global state of mind has become more important than ever, as we find out we’re not the only big fish in an ever-shrinking pond.

While the modern university setting offers many ways in which to study, learn and research famed people, places and events, students can only learn so much from a textbook. That is why Joanne Altman, psychology professor, and Alan Bearman, assistant history professor, are planning to launch students out of their comfort zones and into reality. Altman is leading students on a journey to study the behavior of mountain gorillas and other animals in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda. Bearman is leading a group of 25 students across Europe, hitting multiple sites important to the Reformation in the span of 14 days, including Paris, France, Geneva, Switzerland and Vatican City.

“Touching, feeling, smelling and walking history adds a three-dimensional view that you can’t obtain through a text,” said Bearman.

Altman said while Rwanda has had a troubled past,

it is safer today than ever before. The university would never allow students to go anywhere dangerous, said Altman.

Traveling outside the United States can offer a radically different point of view to students, and that is what both Altman and Bearman hope to be a large part of what students bring back with them.

“I think one of the most important things for students who’ve never left the country is understanding how different the world is,” said Altman.

Altman noted simply that traveling outside the country isn’t enough to come back with an expanded point of view. She explained her first international trip with students to Costa Rica. As students refused to be tolerant of the local culture and yearn for the familiar, they missed one of the biggest points about traveling internationally.

“[Developing a world view] is possibly one of the two or three most crucial things students will ever learn in the modern university,” said Bearman.

In order to truly experience the culture, a person must immerse themselves in it, as well as in the people there. Bearman explained meeting and talking to the people is always amazing, as most know their historical significance in the world. Altman said it’s amazing how people who can seem to be terribly different from you can suddenly seem terribly the same.