(April 11, 2012)
Students meet Tibetan Monk, prep for May Module
SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary students planning to travel to India for May Module recently received a visit from Tibetan monk Tsering Phuntsok and Michael Smith, On-Site Coordinator for the module. Phuntsok and Smith, who act as guides during the trip, interviewed each student and then shared lunch with the group.
The module is a month-long set of immersive courses available in a variety of academic areas. By participating in a May Module, students fulfill their requirements for Trek, an innovative program through which all Centenary students participate in experiential learning by exploring opportunities in the areas of career, culture, and community.
"I left the interview ecstatic about this opportunity," said junior Kyle Kraemer, Philosophy, Psychology, and Biology major. "Michael and Tsering were interested in what would make my personal trip to India meaningful to me, and they expressed to me that they would do their best to incorporate whatever parts of the experience were important to me."
The interviews are designed not only to build a trusting relationship between the guides and students but also to tailor the module experiences to the students' interests. Students have also been preparing for the trip by establishing an email relationship with a Tibetan nun or monk, reading textbooks, viewing documentaries, and attending orientation sessions.
"Study abroad in general is a really excellent opportunity for undergraduates, regardless of the specific country," said Smith. "India is a very unique experience—but it is not for everyone and not an easy place to travel without a guide at first. For those interested in Asia, especially those studying world religions, India is a great experience for the money, providing an invaluable perspective and a ton of fun."
After departing from Shreveport on May 7, students will explore the major religious traditions of Northern India. Major temples and shrines of religious traditions will be on the itinerary, including the Taj Mahal. Students will also spend significant face-to-face time with their Tibetan Mutual Learning Partner.
Tsering Phuntsok is originally from the ILAM region of Nepal, a remote mountainous area near Tibet and the Indian border area of Darjeeling.
The instructor and advisor for the India May Module is Dr. David Otto, Chair of the Religious Studies Department.