COLUMBUS, Miss. – A study abroad opportunity this summer led Mississippi University Women students to new heights—breathtaking views from the mountaintop of Machu Picchu.
“We saw views that didn’t have trails leading to them. We may have been the only people to ever experience the views,” said Abigail McCreary, junior theatre major.
From May 18 – June 14, 19 students of the Ina E. Gordy Honors College traveled to Peru to explore Peruvian history and culture. The trip was the first for both McCreary and Hallie Cole to visit another country.
“When our honors students are on study abroad, the culture they find themselves in becomes their classroom. By immersing themselves--living locally, getting themselves around unfamiliar locations, talking to their neighbors and experiencing all the new sights and sounds--they gain a much deeper understanding of that particular culture and its history,” said Dr. Kim Whitehead, director of the Gordy Honors College.
For the first three weeks, the students resided in Lima, the capital city of Peru. They attended class daily and toured local museums. The students also volunteered more than 25 hours at Casa Ronald McDonald by organizing fundraisers, planting a garden, painting bright rooms and interacting with children. Dr. Whitehead and Erinn Holloway, instructor of Spanish, served as faculty directors for the trip.
After completing their classes, students took part in excursions to a zoo, floating islands and hiking trails that ventured to the top of Machu Picchu.
McCreary described the process as going off the grid with zero Wi-Fi available for the more than a two-hour hike. “You learn more from challenging yourself and putting yourself out there,” said McCreary.
Cole, a junior from Winfield, Ala., recalled waking up in the early hours of the morning to begin her hike. They reached the end of the trail to experience a sunrise that she described as unforgettable.
While in Peru, she was also able to attend a Peruvian cooking class. McCreary explored Lake Titicaca with locals in canoes and caught fish for their guide’s friends and family. Both students deeply immersed themselves into local culture by wearing Peruvian attire, participating in local traditions of song and eating Peruvian barbeque provided by host families.
“Now I love to travel. I love to see the world,” stated Cole.
The Gordy Honors College Forum Series will feature the students who studied in Peru during summer 2018 Thursday, Sept. 27. Students will discuss their study abroad experience, preview programs for 2019 and kickoff a fundraising campaign for Casa Ronald McDonald.