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Faculty-Led Trips

Marlboro College sponsors field trips as a way of supplementing and supporting the curriculum.  Outside funding sources, such as the Freeman Foundation Undergraduate Asian Studies Initiative (FFUASI) and the Christian Johnson Endeavor Foundation (CJEF), have increased the number of trips we can offer enhancing short-term international and intercultural experiences. In previous years, students and faculty have studied in Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Japan and China.  CJEF funds have supported trips to the Lakota and Navajo nations and to Mexico City in 2012, with trips planned to Cuba and Turkey for 2013.

In spring 2007, the Gannett grant was established and provided resources for faculty-led course trips during spring break. The first group went to Chile as part of a class studying Latin American feminist literature while a second group went to Cambodia and worked with children as part of their study of traditional Cambodian arts. Subsequent groups include an Arabic language class traveling to Egypt, a biology of mammals class studying in Kenya, and an Italian history class traveling to Rome for research during the break.

Non-academic trips are offered through the Outdoor Programs (OP) and have included trips to Costa Rica, Belize, the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador and to a Cree community in northern Quebec,Canada. Two OP trips went out this past March, one to Oujé-Bougoumou, Quebec and another to Costa Rica.



Field Trips 2013

Art on the Walls:
Ceramic Tiles in Seljuk and Ottoman architecture, meaning and design

Martina Lantin and Felicity Ratte

Tuesdays and Fridays 1:00 to 3:20 – Appletree

This course is designed to give students a hands-on practitioner’s introduction to the design, style and history of Islamic architectural tile in the Seljuk (11-14th centuries) and early Ottoman periods (particularly the 15th and 16th century) in Turkey. A broad introduction of Islamic architecture will introduce aspects that will support extensive investigation of the Ottoman period and particularly the buildings of Sinan. The course will examine the evolution of the tile decoration within these increasing complex architectural forms. This historical survey of tiles and their architectural settings in Turkey in the thirteenth through the sixteenth century will be strengthened by hands on creation in the studio.

Armed with the knowledge of the development of Islamic tile and ornament, students will design their own site-specific tile installations bearing in mind specific spatial and iconographical parameters relating to practices of the Ottoman Empire.

Tiles of this period are precise in their geometry and overwhelming in their decoration. Students will be able to explore both the graphic nature of pattern repetition and the development of their own personal iconography based on their increased understanding of their design’s graphic application.

The best way to gain insight into architecture is to partake in its sensory experience directly. The course work will be augmented by a two-week trip to Iznik, Bursa (the first capital of the Ottomans) and Istanbul in Turkey to study specific buildings and their tile decoration in situ as well as visit with makers, restorers and historians. Travel will introduce students to the complex art form of Islamic architecture. This region presents students with the crossroads of east and west, Christianity and Islam. While not dealt directly through the course, this intersection offers many possible inspirations for further study.

Cuba: 1898 to the Present

Kate Ratcliff and Carol Hendrickson

This course examines the past 100+ years of Cuban history and the life of Cubans today. The year 1898 marks the end of Spanish rule of the island, Cuba's shift from colony to nation, and the rise of the U.S. to global prominence and significant influence in that country. The class will consider these early years of Cuba's dubious independence, the roots of revolution, and the Cuban revolution itself. Several weeks before the March break and trip to Cuba, we will begin to focus on contemporary life in Cuba with an emphasis on the everyday life in the capital city of Havana. Topics covered will include education, health, religion, politics, women, urban agriculture, and the arts (music and visual). The course will also deal with topics such as national identity, the role of Cuba in global politics, and Cuban immigrants in the United States.

In the weeks leading up to the mid-term break and course trip, students will be asked to identify a research topic, create a preliminary bibliography, and write a draft paper based on library research. Once in Havana, we will visit a number of locations together (e.g., the Museum of the Revolution and the Museum of Fine Arts). As part of our course time in Cuba, students will conduct fieldwork on their research topics. The last time this class was taught students researched and wrote on such topics as the Cuban medical system, baseball in Cuba, Jews in Havana, images of Che Guevara, women’s roles in Havana’s neighborhoods, gays in Havana, and Cuban theater.

Field Trips 2009

EgyptEgypt Trip

Language is not only part of how we define culture, it also reflects culture. Thus, the culture associ­ated with a language cannot be learned in a few lessons about celebrations, folk songs, or costumes of the area. Culture is a much broader concept that is inherentlytied to many of the linguistic concepts taught in language classes. That was the main point of the two-week trip to Egypt, illustrating how challenging it is to teach the language and culture from a place very far away.

According to Ahmed Salama, Fulbright Teaching Language Assistant in Arabic, the main goal of the trip was "to practice Arabic and encounter different aspects of the Arabic culture, particularly Egyptian." Ahmed included aspects that shape the modern face of Egyptian culture including historical and political aspects as well as every day life.  Stopping in Cairo, Middle Delta and Alexandria, the group visited different historical and cultural sites and met with a variety of people from different backgrounds and experiences.

egypt tripThe trip was a great opportunity to foster mutual understanding between east and west and bridge the gap between US and Egyptian cultures.  Students Sarah Ferrari and Geri Medina summarized it best: "We were very impressed and so very grateful for having had the opportunity to meet so many intelligent and fascinating people, see so many places, learn so much history, eat so much authentic Egyptian food, speak Arabic with a number of people, meet a wonderful Egyptian family, and see a community organization doing beautiful things. It was certainly a unique and awakening experience."

Vietnamcathy osman photo

In the middle of an intensive six credit commitment to study the culture and history of Vietnam, nearly a dozen students and three teachers eagerly spent spring break gaining hands-on experience in the country. The travelers split into three smaller groups which each pursued separate projects. Lead by Tim Segar, one group studied the art and architecture of the Champa people while Cathy Osman's group worked with students at Hue College of Arts on collaborative printmaking. The third group, under the supervision of Todd Smith, explored the Tam Giang Lagoon while learning about local conservation efforts from students at Hue University. (Photo by Cathy Osman)

ponagar_shrineThese projects were the focus of the trip but students found plenty of time to explore other facets of the culture. Some spent time learning the national language while others spent a night out with Vietnamese students, singing karaoke in both languages. Everyone experienced the thrill of biking though Hue's crowded, and often confusing, streets which suited some students more than others. Other highlights included visiting what was known as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) during the American war in Vietnam, camping with Vietnamese students, bicycling through the country side and visiting the My Son ruins. (Photo by Levi Gershkowitz)

Previous Trips


In March 2008, the Cambodian traditional arts and community service learning class went to Cambodia for three weeks to study traditional arts and provide community service. The 10 students and two faculty members participated in a range of programs designed to support the education, health care services, and cultural revival of affected communities.

At Helping Hands, a school in the village of Prasat Char in Siem Reap province, they helped rebuild a fence of heavy posts around the school in the midday heat. They also had some lighter tasks, like creating a sock-puppet play to teach kids about brushing teeth and washing hands and collaborating with local students to paint decorative murals.

amberAt Global Children’s Kompang Cham Orphanage, the group repainted latrines that sorely needed it and painted another mural featuring representations of kids reading. They also led a photography project, handing out 50 point-and-shoot cameras to kids and then working with them on a huge photo collage of their images. They worked with the kids on their hygiene and their English, as well as spending time just hanging out and playing soccer. The Marlboro group also taught English to local workers at the monasteries of Wat Bo and Wat Damnak and visited with patients at the Angkor Hospital for Children.

The Chile trip

Students in ChileMarlboro’s spring break provides students with opportunities for intense work and play. While seniors often use the recess to put the finishing touches on their Plans of Concentration, many students utilize the vacation to satiate their wanderlust by taking part in a long-standing tradition of faculty led trips abroad. One recent excursion provided students enrolled in an advanced Spanish course with a grant-funded trip to the far reaches of South America. Prior to their departure, students underwent a rigorous immersion in the feminist literature of Chile. Following this preparation, they traveled to Santiago de Chile where they met and studied with a number of literary figures and critics. From the nation’s capital, the students traveled onward to the rural beach community where poet Pablo Neruda resided and to the bustling port city of Valparíso. En route they engaged in heated intellectual debates, visited sites of historic and literary importance, relaxed on sunny beaches and danced the night away. As senior Kate Magill says: “Exploring Chile for two weeks gave me a taste of the country's culture and landscape, plus a chance to build incredible friendships and collect unforgettable memories.”


For Faculty Members: Faculty Trip Guide