Spring Break Cultural Excursion

The University Honors Program will sponsor its annual Spring Break Cultural Excursion trip for faculty and students to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico March 10-14.

The trip is organized to focus on cultural diversity, with hopes to broaden the horizons of the faculty and students of different institutions.

Joseph Jones, an organizer for the trip and an assistant in the International Services and Summer Sessions office, strongly believes that students should travel and expose themselves to things outside of what they are accustomed.

“Students are more marketable when they have these experiences in foreign countries,” Jones said. “They will also learn to appreciate living in America and understand how global economies operates. The same things that affect other countries affect us too.”

Jones said that at predominately white institutions, students are always involved in opportunities like this. It has made them more competitive in the job market. Now it’s time to make black students more competitive by “closing the gap”.

The Honors Program started the Cultural Excursion during spring break in 1999.

The program is not designed primarily for students. It’s for anyone who wants an experience outside of American culture.

“We plan these trips whenever there is a need for them,” Jones said. “If a faculty or an individual outside of the university would like to take a group of individuals overseas, they would contact either myself or Dr. Mitchell, and we’ll set up a package for them.”

The package includes lodging in a four- or five-star hotel, a round-trip plane ticket, three meals per day and any tours that the program set up, all for $998.

The tour usually includes a campus visit to a university in the country, where students are able to speak with other students and faculty as well as the native people. In places like the Dominican Republic, they receive Spanish lessons by instructors and cultural survival skills.

In the future, the honors program plans to expand to destinations like Brazil, St. Martin, and Jamaica.

Shaena Lyles, 21, a junior from Silver Spring, Md., attended the excursion in 2001.

“It was a wonderful experience. I was exposed to things outside of FAMU,” said the engineering student. “It has definitely made me a more well-rounded individual.”

Students who have not attended agreed that it would be a fulfilling opportunity.

“I would love to see something outside of Tallahassee,” said Michelle Rineman, 20, a sophomore animal science student from Dayton, Ohio.

The honors program also sponsors other travel experiences such as study abroad programs and internships.

Jones said that right now, they are in the process of writing grants to offset the cost of both programs as well as the excursion trip.

“We want to make it as affordable as possible so that students can take advantage of these opportunities.”

Aricka M. Foreman can be reached at aricka_foreman@hotmail.com