Southeast Asia trip puts the “World” in “World History”


B Fei

Graphic depicting a plane going to Southeast Asia with various landmarks listed by countries of origin. With the trip spanning three countries—Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam—there will be much to see, whether it’s the Việt Cộng tunnel networks used during the Vietnam War, the intricate temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, or the Buddhist temples of Thailand. Graphic Credit: B Fei

B Fei, Staff Writer

By definition, “humanities” refers to the study of human culture and civilization, and South High’s curriculum is nothing short of rich deep-dives into the past, present, and future of our world. At the end of the day—however—students can only dream of seeing the different worlds that their teachers display before them as they unearth histories—both old and new—from a textbook, class reading, or lecture.

For Laura Lanik and Delainia Haug—two of South High School’s humanities teachers—learning doesn’t have to begin or end at the classroom. This year, they’re hoping to take students abroad to experience Southeast Asia and enrich themselves within the culture that they’ve been studying at South High School. Thanks to Education First—a company that provides educational tours across the world—South High School has the opportunity to travel with both education and fun in mind without worrying heavily on complicated planning or confusing logistics.

With the trip spanning three countries—Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam—there will be much to see, whether it’s the Việt Cộng tunnel networks used during the Vietnam War, the intricate temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, or the Buddhist temples of Thailand.

Although many students associate overseas travel with overburdening costs, Lanik and Haug are determined to raise money for students who are interested, but not able to pay.

“We spend a lot of time fundraising; kids spend a lot of time fundraising; their parents raise money; they get money through a variety of sources,” Haug said. “We’ve had so many students who say that [they can’t pay] and we say, ‘just give it a try; we promise we’ll help you’ and we haven’t had any students that haven’t been able to raise the money for where they want to go.”

Currently, Lanik and Haug have several fundraising events in the works. At conferences, they’ll sell and have students deliver dinner to teachers at their tables to collectively raise money for the trip. In their classrooms, they’re selling snacks to students and accumulating funds for this year’s travel cohort.

Students have also taken the initiative in raising money. “Sometimes, when the weather was really nice, students would go out and sell popsicles and ice cream sandwiches,” Lanik said. Every year, students find creative new ways to finance their trip.

As the trip slowly nears throughout the year, Lanik and Haug are hoping to innovate their fundraising methods to reach their goals in time. “We’re talking about a garage sale, maybe doing a pancake breakfast,” Lanik said.

Southeast Asia isn’t the first destination that Lanik and Haug have embarked on with students. Rather, international travel has always been a well-supported and well-favored program at South High School among students, teachers, and parents who welcome the unique experiences it offers.

In fact, if students aren’t ready or prepared for this year’s Southeast Asia trip, Lanik and Haug will unveil the travel destination for 2020’s summer trip this year as a way to provide current students with ample time to make decisions and raise money.

To Lanik and Haug, travel is an enriching opportunity that provides unique insight into different cultures and societies and complements what students are learning about in their classrooms. Every trip is diverse in location and different in nature, spanning from Greece to Peru. Lanik and Haug aren’t just looking at regions on-face, but also considering the cultures and histories that underlie their next potential destination.

“We try to pick places that have ancient civilizations connected to them because, in liberal arts, something we study is culture and what it means to be a human,” Haug said. “So we really look for things that connect to history and culture.”

The students who are currently interested in embarking on the Southeast Asia trip are also strong believers in the educational merit and enrichment that traveling abroad provides. For them, nothing is more exciting than studying the humanities in person.

South High senior Leah Vanek is an avid traveler whose knack for traveling stems from her family’s prolific experiences abroad. “When I heard that there was a school trip going so far away to three different countries, I was immediately intrigued. I would love to do this,” said Vanek.

Although Vanek’s explored places such as France and the Dominican Republic, she still finds that there’s very much to see in the upcoming Southeast Asia trip: “I’m really interested in the geography, all the jungles and wildlife; I’m really excited about the temples that we’re going to visit,” she said.

For Vanek, travel is important to connect with people from vastly different cultures: “Hopefully, I can get some interactions with people who live there so I can broaden my cultural familiarity across the world, because that’s one of the farthest places from Minnesota.”

“I’m really excited; I’m ready to work hard, do some fundraising, and just have a great learning experience,” she concluded.

South High junior Simon Baker is equally as excited to explore Southeast Asia this year. “I like cities, and I also like old historical buildings,” said Baker. “I really like seeing new things and creating lasting memories.”

After hearing about last year’s Cuba trip, Baker was determined to experience overseas travel through South High School.

“I want to travel because I like traveling,” said Baker. “I went to East Asia when I was in first grade and that was fun, but I really wanna go back because it makes life happier!”

Baker’s time in Asia, as of now, only consists of his explorations in China through Shanghai, Beijing, and Xi’an. However, he’s excited to add Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam to his growing list of abroad experiences.

With students, parents, and teachers excited for this year’s Southeast Asia trip and equally as determined to raise enough money to follow through, South High School can confidently expect to add another enriching travel opportunity to their growing list of annual trips.

“[We] believe in the value of travel as a way to learn and experiencing the world,” Ms. Haug said. “Ms. Lanik says: If you want to travel, find a way to make it happen.”

For students who are interested in participating in fundraising activities, Lanik and Haug will be hosting a meeting on October 10. This meeting is also an opportunity for newly-interested students who are still looking to sign up but missed the interest meetings.