This summer, 12 students traveled to Carmarthen, Wales for an abroad program that focuses on outdoor experiential learning. Led by Hobart Assistant Dean David Mapstone ’93, P’21 in conjunction with the University of Wales, the students explored the country’s history, political issues and geography while they hiked, mountain biked, kayaked, rock climbed and camped in the natural environment.
“When you’re abroad and your classroom is the outdoors, you are in charge of what happens next,” says Zane Piedmonte-Lang ’21, an architectural studies major. “The experience was totally transformative. Before this I’ve always learned by reading but learning by experience is incredible. It’s a trip that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
The curriculum also encompassed sociology, archeology and geology. “This is an interdisciplinary course that deals with politics, culture, environmental studies and the sciences,” Mapstone says. “The outdoors is really the vehicle to explore and entertain all of these interdisciplinary issues and concepts that are prevalent in Wales, Great Britain and the UK today.”
Anna Moreau ’20, an environmental studies major, says beyond gaining a wealth of new knowledge, she established friendships. “It was cool to see our progression in the program through the confidence and hard skills that we built,” Moreau says. “I was not expecting to go into this program and come out with lifelong friends.”
Mapstone credits alum support for sustaining the program. He notes that the George Riggs ’12 Endowed Student Experience Fund provides assistance for students in the program. “George and other alums have been very generous in supporting this particular program, in part because they believe in the power of actively engaging in the natural environment as a transformational experience for students,” he says.
The Wales program is one of four short-term study abroad experiences led by faculty this summer. Other programs were held in India, Germany and Ecuador.