Maymesters take PC students out of the classroom and into the world

Maymesters take PC students out of the classroom and into the world

Many Presbyterian College students experience a different learning style each spring when Maymester trips take them off campus and around the globe.

Maymesters have a longstanding tradition of giving students a rewarding, intensive, and firsthand learning experience with their professors but away from campus. This past Maymester was no exception.

History professors Dr. Roy Campbell and Dr. Mike Nelson led a group of students on a Maymester trip 7,500 miles from Clinton to the Republic of Fiji. The group toured the archipelago, snorkeled, hiked, dived, and sampled local culture and cuisine.

Dr. Mike Rischbieter and Dr. Jim Wetzel from the biology department took a group of students to the Galapagos Islands, where they hiked and snorkeled.

Kenedie Conway, born in Ecuador, said she never traveled to Galapagos and always wanted to go there. The high point, she noted, was a hike on Floreana Island.

“I loved visiting the highlands, which reminded me of traveling in the jungle as a kid when we lived in Ecuador,” she said. “But I also made the strongest connections with my peers on the island and made connections with the local people. The setting was more of a village-type setting with dirt roads and felt much less touristy. There we got to visit a local farm and see frigate birds diving for water at the farm’s pond. All around an incredible experience.”

 Treading on the same land and witnessing the same species Charles Darwin studied, Conway said the trip may have inspired and shaped her future as she contemplates a career in environmental biology.

“Whatever I do after PC, I don’t want to stop traveling,” Conway said. “But I want to travel with the purpose of serving others instead of being served. Or, even worse, ‘helping’ with my words only instead of my hands. If I can someday travel and help people harness their natural resources and make the most of the natural environment to better their community, this would honestly be my dream come to life.”

English professor Dr. Justin Brent led a group of 16 PC students to the Netherlands. And the group didn’t just tour the Netherlands – they toured the country on bicycles! Beaches, churches, quaint shops, and traditional windmills all were pictured and captured in students’ narratives, which can be read here:

Netherlands Maymester

A dozen students – most of them future educators – traveled with Education professors Dr. Patti Jones and Dr. Julia Wilkins to Italy, where a physician, Maria Montessori, developed the Montessori Method of teaching children.

They toured Padua and visited the University of Bologna, including the classrooms where Galileo once taught. Students visited an Italian elementary school in Florence, saw Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Accademia, watched Balsamic vinegar being made, and sampled Parmesan cheese made in the actual Parma region.

And, Jones said, they sampled a lot of authentic Italian cuisine.

“We went to a cooking school one night in Tuscany,” she said. “So, there’s all the kids and we made homemade pasta and tiramisu and we ate and we laughed. Our trip was a good mix of the education and the arts and cultural and I think students really got to learn a lot and experience Italy.”

On the whole, PC’s Maymesters presents students with the liberal arts at its best – engaging them in culture, history, the arts, and science.