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Study Abroad Trip Planned for the Yucatán Peninsula

BRISTOL, Tenn., Dec. 9, 2015 – King University is sponsoring a foreign studies trip from May 6 through May 20, 2016, to the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. The Yucatán Peninsula is an area in Southeastern Mexico that separates the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. It is home to the Mayan civilization, known as one of the most advanced indigenous cultures of the ancient Americas.

The Yucatán Peninsula study abroad trip will be led by Dr. Alexander Brumlik, assistant professor of Economics at King University’s School of Business and Economics. Dr. Han Chuan Ong, dean of the King College of Arts and Sciences, will serve as a co-leader for the excursion.

“There are numerous reasons for selecting the Yucatán for this summer study abroad trip,” says Ong. “The Yucatán Peninsula is a great cultural contrast to students living in [Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia]. It is easily accessible and affordable. The American currency is relatively strong in Mexico, so students won’t feel they have to conserve too heavily in their spending. Culturally, it is the area where they Mayan civilization created [many] structures that are interesting. It is also biologically rich.”

After more than 100 million votes were cast, the new Seven Wonders of the World were announced by the New7Wonders Foundation on July 7, 2007. Included in the new Seven Wonders of the World is one of the locations students will visit on their trip to the Yucatán – the pyramid at Chichén Itzá. Chichén Itzá was the most famous Mayan temple city.

“Chichén Itzá is the closest [of the Seven Wonders of the World] to us in the United States,” says Brumlik. “It is one of the places you have to see before you die.”

The first half of the two-week trip will be based out of Cancún and Tulum while the second half of the trip will be based out of Merida, which is designated as the City of Peace by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Students will explore the Mesoamerican Reef, which is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. They will enjoy swimming in underwater caves called cenotes. “Astronomical activity in this region created a lot of subterranean caves. One of the exciting things we are going to do is to snorkel in these partially submerged caves,” says Ong. “It would be good for students to have somewhat strong swimming skills because we are going to snorkel not only in open ocean estuaries but also inside caves.

In addition to visiting Chichén Itzá and snorkeling, other activities include hiking and interacting with locals to gain further understanding of the culture, as well as visiting local businesses such as open air markets and a world class glass factory. “It will be an insightful experience for students to see the vast range of the Mexican industry,” says Brumlik. There will also be a service component during the trip.

“[Our] aim is to help these students in the future to move the conversation about Mexico and its people beyond the issues of immigration, so that when you talk about the people of Mexico, the first thing that comes to mind is not immigration. Rather, the thought is, ‘Wow, Mexicans are so friendly and kind; wow, the food is delicious; wow, it is so beautiful here,’” says Ong.

Currently, 12 King students are signed up for the trip to the Yucatán Peninsula. Students interested in participating are asked to sign up no later than the first week of spring 2016 classes (Jan. 11-15). The cost of the trip is $3,000.

For more information on the Yucatán trip, contact Dr. Alexander Brumlik at apbrumlik@king.edu or 423.652.4806 or Dr. Han Chuan Ong at hanchuanong@king.edu or 423.652.6007.

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