The two-semester project, “Ethnic Studies and Eco-Criticism Meet Intercultural Exchange: A Study Trip to Las Vegas,” brought together students and faculty from Leuphana University in Lüneburg and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) as well as Janice Harrington, the “Mother of Gospel Workshops in Germany.” Apart from planning all aspects of the international study trip, Leuphana students learned about financing, sponsoring, and organizing a concert with Janice Harrington and Friends dedicated to African American music in Germany. The proceeds from the concert were used to defray excursion costs. Additionally, participants prepared their own research projects in which they learned about a wide range of topics: African American music and culture; interdisciplinary issues related to Las Vegas (Hoover Dam, Las Vegas’ sustainability concept, nuclear testing); culture and lifestyle of the Hopi and Navajo nations; and cultural heritage sites (Grand Canyon, Canyon de Chelley, and Monument Valley).
Although we have organized many projects over the years, this was by far the largest-scale project seminar we have ever conducted. While it probably would have been easier for us to plan all aspects ourselves, we trusted our students and turned many tasks over to them, thus giving them the opportunity to rise to the challenge. And an immense challenge it was.
Upon our return from Las Vegas, Maria Moss and I needed some time to regain our bearings, digest our experiences, and sort through literally hundreds of photos, a few of which we would like to share with you. Participating in such an excursion is like giving birth: You can’t really understand the work it entails and the joy it brings unless you’ve experienced it yourself. So hats off to all the hard-working instructors out there who regularly put together international excursions for their seminars. In a small series of blogs, Maria and I would like to introduce you from time to time to some wonderful people and places. Stay tuned.