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  • Pueblo Community College students travel to Greece

    Group from Greece Trip 2019

    Madeline Almond was surprised – and happy – to discover her presumption was incorrect.

    “I thought travel abroad was really rare,” she said. “I didn’t think with a community college we would have that opportunity.”

    As her phone full of pictures proves, Almond discovered firsthand that international travel is indeed possible. She and six other Pueblo Community College students traveled to Greece over the summer with philosophy faculty member Travis Parkhurst, who organized the excursion as part of a three-credit class.

    Parkhurst envisioned the trip from the moment he was hired at PCC four years ago.

    “My wife (Johanna Parkhurst, also a PCC faculty member) and I started traveling internationally when we got married and there was such excitement with it,” he said. “I started to see a big difference in myself.

    “It was my dream to take a group of students to Greece. It’s a win-win – to see the beginnings of Western civilization and experience travel firsthand.”

    Participants attended numerous informational meetings beforehand and symposiums while in Greece; participation in discussions was part of the course grade. Students’ final assignment was to create a journal that analyzed and evaluated the nine-day trip and focused on a single experience for each day of travel.

    “Employers say they want our students to have soft skills,” said Parkhurst. “That’s precisely what they are learning through travel – confidence, leadership and communication.”

    The group visited Athens, Olympia and Hydra. They saw the site of the original Olympics, swam in the Mediterranean Sea and toured some of Greece’s stunning archaeological sites.

    “I tried to refrain from having any expectations, but any I may have had were exceeded,” said Parkhurst. “Our students were very professional, respectful travelers and they all seemed to take a lot from it.

    “They had expected that Greece would be radically different (from home). What they found was they’re just people. There are differences but there’s that underlying similarity.”

    Parkhurst is eager to keep the international learning experience going: He and his wife are now organizing an 11-day PCC trip to Japan in May 2020. Like the Greece trip, it will be part of a three-credit religion course on Shinto and Zen Buddhism.

    The cost is $5,200 per person, though that may decrease based on the number of people who sign up and the success of planned fundraisers. Participants have the option of making payments instead of paying one lump sum.

    “While it will take commitment, even sacrifice, they are investing in themselves and their future. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study ideas in context,” Parkhurst said. “Some of their peers have already made this happen, so they can see that it is possible.”

    Almond still sounds a little awestruck when talking about her experience and she has advice for anyone trying to decide whether or not to make the trip to Japan.

    “Go for it,” she said. “It was scary at first but when you get there it’s totally worth it. I want to fill up my passport now.”

    An informational meeting for the Japan 2020 trip will be held at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29 in AB-215. Those who can’t attend are encouraged to contact Travis Parkhurst at 549-3459 or Travis.Parkhurst@pueblocc.edu for information.
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    Founded in 1933, Pueblo Community College is a premier teaching institution focused on providing academic and service excellence to help its students acquire the 21st Century skills needed to better their lives. An educational and technological leader, PCC fosters economic development and utilizes strong partnerships in the communities it serves through its Pueblo, Fremont and Southwest campuses.