MOUNT OLIVE – Students in the University of Mount Olive Honors Program recently spent a week overseas in the beautiful countries of Spain and Portugal. President and Mrs. Philip P. Kerstetter, Dr. and Mrs. Alan Lamm and Dr. Ivan Danchev traveled accompanied the students. Everyone involved reported having an exciting, educational experience that allowed them to enrich their own lives by learning about cultures different from their own.
In Madrid, the group visited the Royal Palace, the Plaza de Colon, the Prado Museum and the Plaza España on the Madrid City Tour. Then they traveled to Salamanca, Spain and saw the Plaza Mayor, The University of Salamanca, the Nouveau Museum, the Church of San Esteban and the Roman Bridge.
The next day they departed for Lisbon, Portugal, via the beautiful Serra da Estrela mountain range. They saw Belem Tower and visited the Cathedral of Lisbon on the Lisbon City Tour. They also enjoyed the elegant Liberdade Avenue, viewed the Monument of Discoveries and walked through the cobbled alleys of Alfama, the old fishermen's quarter.
Junior Hannah Singleton of Goldsboro had never traveled overseas before. “I really just enjoyed the entire experience of soaking up another country and culture,” she said. “This has enhanced my college experience because it has helped to broaden my horizons. In today's world, it helps to a have a wide world perspective and be aware of what's happening around you. It's not enough to just know about where you live and local experiences but to know about other cultures, religions and world perspectives.”
Recent graduates Heath Radford and Aisha Atkinson both of Goldsboro traveled to Slovenia and Croatia last year in the Honors Program. They made sure they enjoyed their last trip as MOC students. “Despite the language barriers, I honestly enjoyed being able to communicate with the local citizens of Spain and Portugal,” said Atkinson. “The people were incredibly friendly and very forthcoming when it came to discussing their cultural beliefs and values.”
“I definitely enjoyed surveying each country, and becoming awestruck by the different landmarks like the Roman aqueducts and the intricate cathedrals that words really cannot describe,” said Radford. “Visiting such places that kings and queens along with past civilizations have lived at added a sense of perspective.”
Seniors Marah Radford of Goldsboro, Amber Thompson of Radford, Virginia, and Nicole Powell of Oxford, NC developed a passion for traveling. “This journey has inspired me to travel around the world on my own,” said Radford. “I now feel comfortable enough to plan possible trips to other countries that without the experiences through MOC's Honors Program would not have been possible.”
“We watched so many videos about Spain and Portugal, but actually being there was amazing,” said Powell. “I would love to spend more time in Europe so I can see even more places and spend a longer amount of time in each place. There is so much to learn everywhere you go that it is impossible to do so in a day or two.”
Thompson felt the same way. “This trip has inspired me to do more traveling and get involved with many different cultures,” she stated. “I enjoyed trying new foods, looking through local shops, and watching or listening to the native music.”
Senior Nicole Sparks of Songtan, Korea was grateful for the opportunity MOC provided her and other students in the Honors Program. “Going to a small school, people seem to believe that it may limit the opportunities larger schools may provide, such a studying abroad for a semester,” said Sparks. “However, this trip from the Honors Program was the experience of a lifetime that many of us may not be able to experience again.”
University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The College, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.moc.edu.