For the first time ever, all freshman Traditions and Transitions (T&T) classes will travel to Topeka as part of an educational field trip.
Each year the theme of T&T classes is based on a particular reading — usually, a nonfiction historical book that involves exploring issues of the past that remain relevant in today’s world. Around mid-semester, a common reading event invites the author of the book to speak in an interactive setting with students, faculty and facilitators.
This year’s book was “The Immortal 10: A Story from the Kansas Underground Railroad,” written by author Gary Jenkins.
The trip to Topeka aligns with this year’s required freshman reading, which tells the tale of 10 brave individuals who helped shape the history of Kansas. One goal of the field trip is to give students the opportunity to learn more about Kansas history, particularly in regards to the Underground Railroad.
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Rosemary Niedens said this particular book offers many great conversation starters based on three noticeable themes. These include discussions of “does the end justify the means” and “media responsibility” when telling stories and topics of refugees and asylum seekers, she said.
“What makes the book so relevant,” explained Niedens, “are the three primary themes that are transferable to current times. Those themes spark conversations, which students can have in an intellectual and academic way. So we allow the historical piece to inform conversations that are going on now.”
The Topeka trip includes a tour of the Capitol building, a visit to a historical museum as well as other activities. More than 200 T&T students, their faculty members and facilitators will leave campus for the daylong expedition on Thursday, Nov. 8.
Regan Casey is the student facilitator for T&T faculty member Cheryl Golden, Ph.D., director of international studies. Casey also works in the Academic and Student Affairs office, has witnessed the behind-the-scenes work of planning the Topeka trip and cannot wait to see how it all pays off, she said.
“I think this will be beneficial to students because it gives them time to make memories and bond with their fellow classmates and facilitators,” Casey said. “They will actually be in the locations of events that took place in their freshman reading, and it’s a new experience for some students who haven’t seen our state’s capital. For those who have, I hope they have a stronger appreciation for what it was built on after having read the book.”