WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Nine students from the William and Virginia Darr Honors Program at Missouri State University-West Plains recently visited Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Paris, France, with program director Alex Pinnon as part of a short-term study away trip to gain a better understanding of topics they studied in class, as well as the unique culture these locations offer.
The eight-day adventure began in Amsterdam, which boasts a rich artistic heritage and elaborate canal system. The group visited the Zaanse Schans, an historic neighborhood that features windmills, homes and specialty shops where visitors can sample cheeses and breads, among other items; a busy open market that stretched through the streets of Amsterdam; and the Anne Frank House, where the young Jewish girl, her family and four other people hid from the Nazis during World War II. Although all of them were eventually captured and sent to concentration camps, where all but her father died, the diary she kept of her days in confinement has become a definitive piece of literature of the time and is still read in schools today. The house serves as a museum to preserve Frank’s legacy and to shed light on persecution and discrimination.
Several of the students enjoyed the sights and sounds of Amsterdam by taking a boat ride through the canals or renting bicycles to ride around the city. They also explored several art museums, including the Van Gough, Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk.
On the fourth day, the group boarded a train for Paris, where they visited such sites as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre art museum, the latter of which houses the famed Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo da Vinci. They also walked along the Champs Elysee and visited the Palace of Versailles, the underground Catacombs where more than 6 million people are buried, and the Sacre´ Coeur Basilica (the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus).
Some of the students braved the climb to the second level of the Eiffel Tower then took the elevators to the top of the 1,063-foot wrought iron tower to marvel at the stunning bird’s eye view of the city. They also spent one evening on a sunset boat ride through the city’s canals. Destiny Johnson, Bakersfield, said the view of Paris at night is one of her favorite memories of the trip.
Other students said they enjoyed the variety of food they sampled, the diverse accents of the people they encountered, and the many street performers they saw in both cities. “I’ll remember that one week on the other side of the world for the rest of my life,” said Rosemary Driscoll, Brandsville.
“I was really glad to take this group of students,” Pinnon said. “These abroad trips bring out the adventurous, courageous and inquisitive qualities of students that oftentimes are hidden until they go abroad.”