Western Kentucky University describes itself as a “Leading American University with International Reach”, and the Honors College is no exception to this rule. While many students were relaxing at home or on the beach over spring break, Dr. David Coffey led a group of students, including six honors scholars, in a twelve-day study abroad program based in Ecuador. The trip was primarily focused in Quito with side trips to Puyo and Ambato.
The course was designed to compare the agricultural practices in the highlands of Ecuador with those found in the Amazon. Alex Hezik, a freshman who designed her Sustainability major through the Honors College, described the experience. “We compared different agricultural practices by going to dairy farms in the Highlands and Amazonian Ecuador, as well as a flower operation near Quito. We also compared the different marketing systems in the country by going to several Indian markets and a supermarket in Quito.”
Students also participated in a service-learning project to advocate dental hygiene in the area. “Everyone that was on the trip participated in a dental service project that involved going to schools in Quito, Ambato, and Puyo and painting fluoride varnish on kids’ teeth,” Hezik recalls, “The varnish applied to the kids’ teeth prevents any further tooth decay for six months.”
Although the course was an agriculture class, scholars of various majors attended. Matt Frazier, a sophomore Biology major, said, “The class opened my eyes to an entire new culture, and I was able to see applications of my own field of study through the biological engineering of plants.”
Through the Honors College’s Augmentation process, students were able to receive Honors Credit for the course. Frazier took advantage of this opportunity. “This study abroad was certainly an Honors experience; through it, I was able to compare and contrast various aspects of Ecuadorian culture with the cultures of European countries and the Untied States.”
Loren Gross, a junior and Agricultural Education major, also augmented the course. “I feel having the Honors Augment in this course has made me further analyze this experience, which helped me better understand the actual scope of what occurred.”
This study abroad opportunity serves as a great reminder to other students. Regardless of your major, there really is a study abroad program for everyone, and Honors credit is always available. For more information on studying abroad, speak with your advisor, or visit the Study Abroad Office in Grise Hall, room 128.
Honors contribution submitted by Will Lyle