While most CSC students were looking forward to having a much deserved October break just before their mid-terms, the 18 students in the southwest were just waiting for the opportunity to get back to a real classroom!Now approaching almost nine weeks into the school year, the semester in the southwest initiative is in full swing and shows no signs of stopping or slowing down until the very end. Having continued on their journey to see and experience as much of the American Southwest as humanly possible while there, the group’s most recent quests have brought them deep into the surrounding states of Arizona, Utah, and Colorado in pursuit of cultural and artistic understanding of this amazing region.
With many of their trips filled with long periods of time spent in their two 12-person vans roaming through the open states, one of the most challenging aspects is simply the wait to get from one point to another.
“The driving hours we’ve clocked since coming here have been long,” said student Craig Drummond. “It’s pretty taxing to have to spend the most of a day in a cramped van. But it’s worth it when we make it to places like Mesa Verde and Canyon De Chelly.”
Located a little ways in to Arizona from the New Mexican Border, Canyon De Chelly is a renowned National park noted for its high walls and fertile canyon floor. For centuries the canyon has been the home of local farmers who spend their days minding their fields and livestock within the confined canyon, or working as artisans creating crafts to sell for the tourists who come virtually every day to visit and experience their verdant home.
“It’s amazing when you’re driving for hours and hours with nothing but desert surrounding you. Then, you get to this big hole in the ground expecting it to be just as barren only to find it so full of life that people can actually live there!” said student Emily Louise Mason.
For students, the cultural impact of being able to see and experience the canyon as well as the surrounding town of Chinle, was one of the greatest insights they’ve had since the start of the trip.
Following their departure back to New Mexico, the students and faculty alike would also have the opportunity to have an October break of sorts, like their fellow students back in Vermont, by spending a week’s time living on a house boat in Lake Powell, Utah.
For many, this reprieve was one of the most highly anticipated parts of the trip and gave them a much needed rest from the hustle and bustle of going place to place.
Hiking, Swimming, and boating were all incorporated into their stay along with their normal class time events. Despite weather taking turns for the worst in some instances with heavy rains, wind, and hail, not one of the group walked away from the experience without a fond memory.
“At one point we were stranded,” said Becca Pattis, one of a handful of freshman. “We had all gone out to go hiking and took speedboats to get to another part of the lake. Before we got there they both ran out of gas, a huge thunderstorm rolled in, and we ended up being rescued by these businessmen on vacation. Where else in the world does that count as class time!