SOU’s Outdoor Adventure Leadership program is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for students to major in the outdoors and experience unique opportunities such as the International Expedition – which culminated last summer in separate trips to Nepal and to Turkey and Greece.
A total of 14 undergraduate students, seven graduate students and three faculty members made one or the other of the international trips, which encourage emotional intelligence growth by providing adventures into the unknown.
The graduate students spent last winter and spring term planning the expeditions and then as the summer progressed the trip attendees left their homes for adventure. Each trip was going to focus on learning and growing in their own emotional intelligence through, trekking, bikepacking, SCUBA and white water rafting.
The first few days of the expedition to Nepal were spent exploring the city of Kathmandu and visits to cultural sites such as Swoyambhu Mahachaitya, or the “monkey temple,” which is known for the monkeys that surround it.
Participants in the Nepal expedition then took off on a 12-day tea house trek to the Annapurna Base Camp. The adventure threw rain, leeches and exhaustion at them. The trekkers did not make it to the ABC, but the majority made it to a different view point on the Mardi Himal, where they were treated to phenomenal views of the Himalaya mountain range.
After a few days of rest in the city of Pohkara, the team made friends with some of the locals and had the opportunity to go whitewater rafting at the tail end of the monsoon season. They finished out their time in Kathmandu, shopping and embracing the bonds of friendship they had built throughout the month in Nepal.
Members of the expedition to Turkey and Greece spent their first few days in Antalya, exploring the city and whitewater rafting. They then took a little over a week to bike-pack to a town called Demre, where they entered the water and sea kayaked to Kas, where some of the students were able to get their open water certification.
The group then split, and half made their way to Rhodes, Greece, and the other half continued bike-packing along the Lycian way. After spending a few days apart, all members of the expedition reconvened in Athens, where they spent the last few days exploring the city.
Undergraduate students in the OAL program can choose between two pathways to graduation: completion of the Spring Immersion (a 10-week immersion class) or completion of an International Expedition. The expeditions are planned and facilitated by graduate students in the Masters of Outdoor Adventure and Expedition Leadership Program. The goal is for undergraduates to learn and become immersed in a vastly different culture than their own.
Many see Outdoor Adventure undergraduate and graduate students traveling and being in the outdoors, but the trips also teach students about themselves and each other. Participants build bonds with their teams and with locals in the countries they visit. The teams are able to teach each other new things as they explore different countries.
The current cohort’s final presentation will be Dec. 7.
I can’t speak for others, but this summer’s trip changed my life for the better.
Story by OAL student Allie Cornett