Lee College Study Abroad program explores Belize

Students and faculty return to campus May 23, will share insights from trip on May 31

BAYTOWN, TX — The Lee College Study Abroad program headed off this week to the Central American country of Belize for an eight-day exploration of Mayan ruins, the natural beauty of land and sea, and the unique relationship between place and identity.

Study Abroad group photo

Students and faculty in the Lee College Study Abroad program headed off Monday, May 16, on an eight-day trip to Belize. Study Abroad allows students to travel internationally while earning academic credit toward their Lee College degree.

Study Abroad allows students to experience another country while also earning academic credit for their Lee College degrees. Students and faculty left for Belize on May 16 and will return to campus on May 23. The program was revived at the college last year with a trip to Great Britain, Ireland, and Wales.

As part of their participation, Study Abroad students had to complete intensive English and kinesiology classes that began weeks before their departure and provided a theoretical foundation for their journey. They must also share impressions from their trip with the community upon their return.

This year’s Study Abroad English course included readings of “Writing Takes Place” by Sidney I. Dobrin and important works of Belizean literature that covered the country’s history, folklore, myths, art and cuisine. Students will present their insights from Belize to the community on May 31 — and have already shared their work with the public at the invitation of the Gulf Coast Intercollegiate Consortium Academic Symposium, which carried the theme, “Time and Place as Context.”

“The concepts of ‘placed-based’ education and eco-composition will guide our exploration,” said Georgeann Ward, coordinator of the Lee College Honors Program and instructor of the Study Abroad ENGL 2341 class.

Graeme Cox, chairman of the Kinesiology and Wellness Division, taught the Study Abroad KINE 1164 class and is also accompanying the students to Belize. The kinesiology course prepared students for activities they will participate in during their trip.

“Students improved their fitness levels, made positive changes to their diets and feel physically prepared for our adventures,” Cox said.

Both instructors hope that through their travels, Study Abroad students will learn as much about themselves and their own relationship to place as they do about the wonders of a foreign country.

“Intellectually curious, hard-working, and courageous, our students show how powerful education can be when it encourages students to understand themselves and their relationship to the world around them,” Ward said.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Study Abroad program revived

Lee College freshman Annalia Stewart always wanted to travel outside of the United States but never had the chance — that is, until the college revived its Study Abroad program this summer with a 10-day trip to Great Britain, Ireland and Wales.

“This was a great opportunity for me to travel abroad without being alone. We’ll really be able to feel the history we learn in class,” said Stewart, one of 16 students now exploring the treasured landmarks of the British Isles while also earning academic credit for their Lee College degrees.

The students, accompanied by Honors Program faculty members Dr. Gordon Lee and Portia Hopkins, left for Europe on May 18 and return to Baytown on May 28. It is the first Study Abroad trip the college has organized since 2008, when Lee took a group of students to London and Paris, he said.

“Study Abroad gives students a sense that something exists beyond their own community,” said Lee, an instructor of English and Humanities. “Students are always awe-filled by what they see and experience in another country. They develop a new perspective on the world and a new appreciation for cultural things.”

As part of the trip to the British Isles, students had to enroll in an intensive English and Humanities or History summer class that began prior to their departure. Lee and Hopkins, an instructor of American Studies and History, specially designed course content to pair with notable sites that students toured while abroad — helping them forge a deeper connection with what they saw.

The students also had to complete several scholarly reading and writing assignments and maintain a travel journal, and will prepare a Capstone presentation to deliver to the campus community later this summer.

Hunter McHugh, an Honors Program sophomore and the newly elected Student Government Association president, said the classwork is part of what makes traveling through Study Abroad more worthwhile than overseas trips she has taken in the past.

“Then, I was purely a tourist,” McHugh said. “Now, I know I’ll get more from the trip, and the experience will be more meaningful. This is something that I’m going to remember my whole life.”

Study Abroad at Lee College is an initiative of International Education being hosted in part through EF Educational Tours. For more information, contact Dr. Nader Naderi at nnaderi@leecollegeonline.com.