Students on a class trip to Jordan.

Learning involves more than just the subjects a student chooses to study, which is why Champlain provides opportunities like study abroad and developed the Core curriculum: To build their worldview and depth of knowledge.

One of the most rewarding opportunities are Core classes include a faculty-led trip as part of the curriculum. These enable students to spend an entire semester studying diverse topics and then travel the world to witness them firsthand.

This is the case for Core Professor Gary Scudder’s “Theoretical Perspectives” class, the curriculum specializing in the culture of Jordan. Scudder and Core Professor Cyndi Brandenburg have accompanied students to Jordan on multiple occasions, and there’s a reason they keep going back.

“The country affords so many amazing opportunities to connect interdisciplinary thinking to actual human experience,” Brandenburg said. 

Brandenburg explained that Jordan is rich and diverse in terms of historical, religious, and cultural pasts that are still present today. It has played a critical role in the dynamics of the Middle East and Arab world and reflects the ways humans can adapt to and thrive in various natural environments.

“For most students, traveling to Jordan really is different from anything else they have done before,” she said.

A student wearing a cowboy hat overlooks the view in Jordan, close to sunset.
A student admiring the view. Photo by: Caroline Selby ’25.

Applying Knowledge to the Real World

Marit Ullrich ‘25, a Game Art major, was drawn to this class due to her interest in its unique subject matter. She explained that most of what the students learned in class centered around reading the Muqaddimah, a book comprised of discussions on Islamic theology. In class, students considered how the text connects to contemporary Jordan, and on the trip, they focused on learning about the Bedouin culture, which they read about in the Muqaddimah

“Writing and learning about a location is one thing, but culture is infinitely more complex than what can be researched on the internet or read in a paper,” Ullrich said. “Going somewhere so different changes your worldview and for me personally, serves as a source of creative inspiration.”

According to Ullrich, she had traveled abroad in the past, but Jordan was unlike any place she had ever been. Her favorite destination was the historic Roman city of Jerash, also known as the “City of a thousand columns,” which showased ancient mosaics dating back a millennium.

Columns are lined vertically in a curve, surrounding a cobblestone center.
Jerash, the City of a thousand columns. Photo by: Caroline Selby ’25.

The most impactful moment for Ullrich, however, was visiting a school in Azraq.

“In the center of a small, dusty, and barren town sits the most perfect oasis. A center for the children of Azraq and the incoming Syrian refugees,” Ullrich said. “We spent a large portion of our time there interacting with the students and connecting with the administrators, who all were passionate about helping these children. To see all these kids happy and learning was a true joy.”

In Jordan, the students’ adventure was nothing less than thrilling. They had the opportunity to fully engage in the regional culture and interact with the welcoming Jordanian locals. Additionally, they experienced an exciting camel ride through the breathtaking Wadi Rum desert, making their trip truly unforgettable.

For more information on faculty-led travel, please visit our website.

Haley Seymour
Class of 2023
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