UMO Honors Students Take Education Abroad to Thailand

UMO Honors Students Take Education Abroad to Thailand

MOUNT OLIVE – Each year Honors students at the University of Mount Olive (UMO) take a study and travel course during their junior year to learn about the history and culture of a destination of their choosing. At the end of the semester, the students have the opportunity to travel to that destination.  The trip is budgeted into the academic curriculum and provides every student the financial ability to participate.

In August of 2015, the junior Honors class decided that they wanted to study the history and culture of Thailand. The Asian curriculum and trip was the first in the history of the UMO Honors program.

Honors professor Dr. Alan Lamm said, “I was impressed that the junior Honors students picked to study and go to an Asian country. The class was able to study all the wonderful historical sites, temples, and ruins across Thailand in books, but being able to experience it in person brought the pictures and text to life. It is so powerful to see these places, people, and cultures.”

Throughout the year, the students researched various aspects of Thailand history and culture.

“The class provided us with a snapshot of what Thailand had to offer,” explained rising senior criminal justice major Montgomery Register of Wilmington. “We studied the history of the Buddhist temples and religion of Thailand. Each of us presented different projects about the country, and I learned so much during the process.”

The class also teaches the students how to prepare for traveling to a different country.

Raychel Barwick, a rising senior elementary education major from Mount Olive, added, “Dr. Lamm prepared us for traveling abroad. He made sure we knew how to interact with locals and how to safely travel within the country. We watched tutorials, and Dr. Lamm even showed us how to pack a carry-on bag for a ten-day trip!”

In May, all of the students’ hard work paid off as they traveled to Thailand.

Fifteen Honors students, including many from the May graduating class, and four professors, Dr. Alan Lamm, Jackie Hill, Dr. Joey Long, and Dr. Linda Holland-Toll, all set out for Thailand on May 9 through the 19.

This Asian adventure included touring Bangkok’s famous temples and palaces, cruising through the famous River Kwai, and visiting the historical ruins of Ayutthaya.

“After learning about the temples and palaces, I was amazed to see it all in person,” noted Alexis McNiel, a rising senior psychology major and business management minor from Bowie, MD. “Also, our tour guide helped us along the way and taught us so much about the people in Thailand! The trip was really worth all of the class and travel time.”

The students also enjoyed interacting with the local people and trying the unique cuisine.

Recent graduate Michael Munoz of Whittier, CA, said, “It was so amazing to see an Asian country and try the authentic Thai cuisine, especially the curry! It was so different than the Thai food I’ve had here in the states. I also really enjoyed the fresh fruits available everywhere we went.”

As the students reflected on their experiences abroad, they were thankful for the knowledge they gained from the class and the trip.

“By actually travelling to Thailand, we were able to experience a whole new way of life. That is something I have never gained from a class before,” explained Barwick. “It was truly life-changing, and I am so thankful for the donors, the professors, and the University, who together made this trip possible.”

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College.  For more information, visit