Lehigh Valley students seizing spring break travel opportunities

February 26, 2013

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. -- As Penn State's spring break 2013 commences next week (March 3 to 9), students from the Lehigh Valley campus will embark on excursions designed to take their learning outside of the classroom and into the real world. Students traveling to Mexico and Rome will do so as part of course-embedded short term study abroad experiences, while another group of students heads to West Virginia to perform community service in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.


As the leading exporter of agriculture to Pennsylvania, Mexico plays an important but sometimes unknown role in the state's economy. Former Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Samuel Hayes Jr., currently a member of Penn State's Board of Trustees, is not only acutely aware of this  but has long desired to establish a partnership between Penn State and the University of Guanajuato, Mexico, to explore and share knowledge of this topic. A somewhat serendipitous meeting between Lehigh Valley campus associate professor of ESL (English as a second language) education Mary Hutchinson and Hayes has brought this vision to reality. Combining Hayes' experience in Guanajuato and Hutchinson's experience in developing short-term embedded experiences has led to a rigorous itinerary that will immerse Penn State ecology and agriculture students in many aspects of Guanajuato's culture.

The majority of the students traveling to Mexico are currently taking BIO 297E, The Ecology and Agriculture of Guanajuato, a course that instructor of biology Karen Kackley-Dutt developed specifically for this experience. From visiting agave fields to touring a Green Giant vegetable processing plant, Penn State students will work alongside students from the Mexican university to explore the significance of Guanajuato's agriculture industry and ecology. Each day they will blog about assigned topics, and share pictures and video from their experience. Their blogs will be hosted at http://mexicoblog2013.wordpress.com. For more information about the trip, visit www.pslvasb.weebly.com.  


Across the Atlantic Ocean, Lehigh Valley campus honors students will also be using video technology to document their experiences in the ancient city of Rome. Prior to the trip, students in the International Cultures: Film and Literature course, taught by Barbara Cantalupo, associate professor of English, have been studying Robert Hughes' memoir "Rome: A Cultural, Visual and Personal History" as well as films by directors such as Frederico Fellini, Vittorio De Sica, William Wyler and Woody Allen, among others, who have used Rome as a backdrop for their films. During the trip, students will model their own visual memoir of Rome on one of these director's filmmaking style and/or thematic concerns.

West Virginia

Meanwhile, students from the campus' Community Heroes club will continue the long-standing tradition of a service-oriented Alternative Spring Break. This year they will travel to rural West Virginia, where a blizzard spawned by Superstorm Sandy caused destruction to already flood-ravaged areas of the state. Students will help install new floors, work on roofs, paint and provide exterior maintenance to homes still in need of repair.

Follow Lehigh Valley spring break activities on Twitter, @PSULehighValley, with #AltBreakLV for updates.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated February 27, 2013