Every January students at Pacific University are presented a roster of short-term study abroad courses to choose from during registration. This year, Outdoor Leadership added a course to list, and will offer their first ever international trip. The course, which will be led by the Outdoor Leadership instructor Sam Morrison, will take students to Chiapas, Mexico, for a rafting trip where they will stay for 17 days.
“The primary objective will be a 7-day rafting trip through the Lacandon Jungle on the Río Usumacinta,” Morrison said. “Students will be gaining skills in independent, rugged adventure travel, so that they can do similar trips on their own in the future.”
According to Morrison, there are 12 students currently signed up to take part in this inaugural international trip for the program. Along with the adventures and travel experience, students will also take part in intercultural communication and examine the differences between mass tourism in Cancún and small group adventure tourism in Palenque.
The group will be aided by two local Ch’ol-speaking guides in Mexico. Ch’ol is a group of Mayan people and Mayan language, Morrison said.
“I’m most excited about students being able to truly get outside of their comfort zone in a number of ways,” Morrison said. “For some students this will be their first trip abroad, interacting with a part of Mexico that few tourists experience.”
Morrison said he is excited about the trip and even brings with him several years of experience from living in and exploring the area.
“I kayaked a tributary, the Río Lacanja, of the Usumacinta, in December 2012,” Morrison said. “I also lived in Guadalajara for 3 years and Baja California Sur for a year.”
The course is sure to open a number of new horizons for the students taking part in the trip.
“I’m excited to see students reactions and growth while camping next to jungle covered ruins with spider monkeys, chameleons and toucans surrounding them,” Morrison said.