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St. Andrews travels create new perspective for student

Amy Schellack

Having grown up in a family of travelers, Amy Schellack '11 was excited about the opportunities for travel afforded by St. Andrews Presbyterian College.

"My parents brought me up to enjoy the experience," she said.

While Schellack planned to take advantage of the various opportunities to travel through St. Andrews, it was a chance encounter that brought her to her first trip for academic credit.

"My first trip with St. Andrews was to Vietnam," she recalled. "It wasn't something I sought out. James White, who was acting as a trip coordinator, was walking with me across the bridge and he just asked if I wanted to go.

 
Amy Schellack

"I was surprised to learn about Vietnam. I only knew about it as the site of a brutal war," she admitted. "I fell in love with the country. I had to take a course before we went to learn a little bit. I want to go back, maybe even teach. I remember it as a defining moment learning about the country. There were Vietnam incidents that I never understood. I learned their opinions of Americans. I didn't feel any resentment from them. I had a nice perspective as a travel."

Continuing her personal travels, Schellack met up with friends in China before a brief return to the States. The return was brief, as she had to prepare for a semester in Brunnenburg, Italy.

"It was such an amazing experience," she said. "It was like a second home for me. It was almost painful for me to watch the people preparing to leave for the trip this year without me. I told them that I would be more than happy to talk with them about the experience. I will start talking and they might not be able to stop me"

While having the opportunity to travel to places her ancestors called home was a key for Schellack, it was the unexpected educational component of working with art professors Stephanie and Christopher McDavid that made a lasting impact.

"A big part of the trip for me was being introduced to art. I did art when I was little and then just let it go, thinking I wasn't very good," Schellack said. "But the McDavids really helped to draw the art side out of me. To go see the artwork in the museum after learning about them in class made it so much better. I took the drawing one class and it's now a hobby of mine. I sketch in my free time and it opened another aspect of my education."

Excited by this new hobby, Schellack decided that travels must continue. Having stopped in nine European countries during the fall semester, the travel bug had grown. Schellack then spent her winter break in Canada and spring break in Mexico.

While working hard in the classrooms of the Laurinburg campus, spring semester also served as a time of preparation for the next St. Andrews sponsored trip. This time it was the trek through India with Dr. Neal Bushoven.

"India was the most culturally shocking trip," Schellack said. "There are so many things to take in. It is amazing to see how people view things. They live in poverty but they are happy. When I came home and the air conditioning broke in my car I realized that it wasn't the end of the world. These people are lucky if they ever even ride in a car, yet alone own one.

"Bushoven was a great guide," she added. "He is a reincarnated Indian. He very much helped us to incorporate our prior view and reflect on what we observed and experienced."

As the locations have changed for this world traveler, the experiences have caused an internal journey as well for Schellack.

"These travel experiences have helped me learn how to relate to people in general," she said. "I'm not intimidated by the cultural differences. I am excited about what we can share. Now I can relate to people from different cultures and places in a new way. It is so amazing. I feel like it is my responsibility to encourage others to travel. We tend to get caught up in our own world and I just feel happiness when I travel.

"I am lucky to have parents who can support me through this," she continued. "St. Andrews is so abundant in offers that they have asked me to slow down a little bit. It's time for my younger brother to get his turn. My sister had her turn and I've had mine and now he needs to get his turn.

"I do plan to keep going. I just can't get enough."

    Return to Alumni & Friends Magazine 2009
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