Posted on Thursday, September 7, 2023
Twenty-four Westminster College students had the opportunity to expand their educational and cultural horizons during the All-College Honors Program’s annual journey to Greece this summer.
In collaboration with the Athens Centre, an educational resource institution in Greece that Westminster has work with over many years, the two-week travel experience—under the leadership of Dr. Jamie Chapman, Honors Program director and associate professor of sociology, and Dr. Russell Martin, professor of history—complements the two courses that first-year honors students take: Ancient Greek Justice and The Renaissance and the Age of Discovery.
The trip included visits to museums and several cultural sites that students learned about in the classroom. In Athens, they traveled to the Parthenon, the Acropolis, the Areopagus and the Ancient Agora, where Socrates lectured. They visited Delphi, a religious sanctuary dedicated to the god Apollo and the home of the most famous Oracle of the ancient Greek world, the town of Nafplio, an ancient city that took on the look and feel of its Italian masters during the late Middle Ages, and the ancient ruins of Mycenae. An overnight ferry trip took the group to the island of Crete where they visited the ancient Minoan ruins in Heraklion, the Minoan Palace in Festos, and Spinalonga Island, which housed a leper colony the first half of the 20th century.
“For many students, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have an immersive travel experience facilitated by experts in the field,” said Chapman, adding that the presence of licensed professional tour guides enhanced the visits to ancient sites by providing students with cultural insights and nuances generally not evident to tourists.
“Reading about ancient Greece and studying writers and their literature was truly amazing, but seeing the country I’ve always been intrigued by and all the archeological sites and artifacts I’d learned about in class was magical,” said Chloe Smith, a sophomore English major from Brookville, Pa. “I found myself constantly looking up, down and all around in absolute awe, trying to commit every small detail about what I saw to my memory because I was overwhelmed by wonder in the best possible way.”
Sophomore Catherine Clark, a neuroscience and biology major from Allison Park, Pa., agreed.
“Greece was such a rewarding destination to travel to because its history reaches so far into the past and has plentiful connections to the texts we’ve been reading, alongside more modern culture,” she said. “This trip was two of the best weeks of my life and helped me grow in my independence, appreciation for the world we live in and historical thinking.”
The Westminster All-College Honors Program builds international travel into its sequence of interdisciplinary, global honors seminars with the annual trip to Greece. High school seniors with a GPA of 3.75 or higher are invited to apply to the honors program. Westminster College sophomores not enrolled in the honors program as first-year students may apply to the program after their first semester at Westminster. To be eligible for sophomore-entry, students must hold a 3.7 GPA.