Last fall, when I was starting my first semester at Whitman, I was intrigued by a unique opportunity to travel to a foreign country through the Whitman summer program, Crossroads. This program allows professors to teach short but intense off-campus courses in various locations throughout the world. In previous years, students have traveled to Stockholm, Sweden, or Beijing, China. This summer, the Crossroads program has courses in three locations: Rome, Shanghai, and Yunnan.
I’ve always wanted to travel, but I didn’t think it would ever be an option for me, unless I decided to study abroad for a semester during my Whitman career. When I heard about Whitman’s Crossroads Program, I didn’t honestly think that I would get in, or would be able to afford the trip if I did. The Program traveling to Yunnan sounded especially interesting to me and after learning that there was financial aid available I decided to apply. After turning in my application and attending a short interview, I eventually learned that I would be a part of the group traveling to Yunnan, China. Not only was I accepted into the program, but I was also given a generous aid package that made my participation possible.
In order to participate in the program, I was required to enroll in an Anthropology class on Southwest China. This class is extremely fascinating, and the professor has first hand knowledge of his subject, having traveled to many parts of this region of China for research throughout the last few decades.
In order to attend the program, I was also required to enroll in an anthropology class called Power at the Periphery: Nature and Culture in Southwest China (ANTH 247 B ), which will give our group a background in the region. The class itself is fascinating; each Tuesday and Thursday we meet and discuss the assigned readings, and listen to personal anecdotes from our professor, who is familiar with the region and has traveled there extensively in the past. Even though we still have half semester left, this class has already made many changes to the way that I think about society, assimilation, and the narratives told by those in power.
Once the spring semester is over, our group will leave for Yunnan and spend three weeks traveling the region and working on individual projects. I can’t wait for that time to come and I am so incredibly grateful that I have been given this once in a lifetime opportunity.