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SHSU students (above left) gather prior to embarking for SHSU's Puebla Field School. Mexico's most active volcano, Popocatépetl, located near Puebla, erupted during last year's field school visit. Click photos for larger view.

Students Head for Puebla Field School

By Michelle C. Lyons
The Huntsville Item

There's nothing unusual about taking Sam Houston State University's Spanish, art, geology or business classes in the summer--unless of course the classrooms are in Mexico.

A group of 48 students and five professors departed June 7 for Puebla, Mexico to attend Sam Houston's Mexican Field School.

Classes in ceramics, drawing, Spanish, geology and international business are among the courses being offered to students.

Classes will be held in a hotel in the historic district of downtown Puebla, with the exception of the ceramics classes. Those will be held on the patio of a nearby home and in a talavera factory, where the famous Talavera tile is manufactured.

The hotel, Hotel Palacio de San Leonardo, is also where the members of the group stay until their return on July 2.

Besides taking classes and earning credits, the students also will be taking a number of field trips--several of which are already planned and scheduled.

For instance, the group is scheduled to visit the Mexican stock exchange and National Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepec Park in Mexico City on June 12, and the group is scheduled to visit two nearby pyramids on June 13-14.

Katharine Ligon, a junior general studies major, said she decided to take the trip because she was encouraged to go by her parents, who also had traveled abroad during college.

"They always kind of encouraged my sister and me (to travel abroad)," Ligon said. "I'm definitely excited."

Ligon said the cost of the trip, including taking two classes, was about $2,000. The cost included airfare, meals and accommodations. Students were given the opportunity to choose their roommate for the trip, she said.

Eddie Wilkinson, a senior criminal justice major and Spanish minor, said he wanted to take the trip to help improve his Spanish. Besides taking a Spanish class, he also is enrolled in a drawing class.

Apart from the fact that the classes are being held in Mexico, school will be business as usual, Wilkinson said.

"It's like going to school here," he said. "It's the same classes, the same professors."

Senior agriculture major Grady Speed also is taking a drawing class, as well as geology.

"I just wanted to sightsee," he said. "Im taking a geology class and wanted to learn about the topography down there."

"I'm just ready to get down there and relax."

The group is being accompanied by professors Margaret Bohls, Kate Borcherding, Betsy Torrez, Vic Sower and Frieda Koeninger, director of the field school. The group will also meet up with some ex-Sam Houston students.

Sam Houston alum Lourdes Casillas will host a party for the group June 11, while alum Gerardo Ruiz is helping with many of the group's arrangements.

Torrez, who also is the assistant director of the field school, said this is the second consecutive year a group has gone to Mexico.

Torrez said students and professors took the trips regularly from the 1940s to 1970s, but they were discontinued for a number of years due to political unrest.


Posted June 11, 1998 w/permission from The Huntsville Item
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