Travel & learn off the beaten path

Dr. Michael Hall moves slowly between rows of desks in his History 5100 class, his eyes scanning the faces of students, his teeth often visible through a nearly permanent grin. A historian with a Ph.D. from the University of Ohio and a tenured faculty member at Armstrong, Hall is in complete control of his class. His lectures, peppered with tongue-in-cheek remarks and good-natured banter, are as educational and informative about Latin American history as they are fascinating.

And although he relishes every minute of teaching, Hall also finds great joy in taking his students to visit the places they've studied and learned about in class. At the end of every spring semester, he trades in the classroom for the open splendor of Latin American landscapes in study abroad trips that have included visits to Peru, Brazil and Argentina. His excitement is contagious.

“These tours are designed with history and culture in mind and are not your typical tourist destinations,” he said.

A recent trip to Peru included a stop at the ruins of Chan Chan, a city of adobe and the capital of the ancient Chimu civilization that is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The tour also took participants to the ruins of Chiclayo in northern Peru, the center of the Moche civilization that blossomed around 500 B.C., and which is known for its erotic pottery. Students also peered into the Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan, whose director, Walter Alva, is an internationally renowned authority on Peruvian archeology.

The trip also included a stop in the city of Cajamarca, which at nearly 9,000 feet above sea level, was the site of a historical encounter between conquistador Francisco Pizarro and Inca leader Atahualpa in 1532.

“These experiences open their eyes to a whole new world,” said Hall. “They learn that the past is so present and they understand that they can learn in conjunction with having a great time.”

Hall typically leads groups of around 12 “cultural travelers,” including students and non-students.

Visit our study abroad website to learn more about Armstrong study abroad opportunities.