A global approach to learning at MSJC's Menifee Valley Campus

November 12, 2015

School activities are about to get a lot more adventuresome for students at the Mt. San Jacinto College campus in Menifee.

For starters, how about zip-lining through lush rainforests, exploring ancient temples, and marveling at a prehistoric rock formation—all of them thousands of miles from home?

These new opportunities for travel study trips are possible because of the dedication of two Mt. San Jacinto College professors, Jason Hlebakos and Ted Blake.

Next year, students, non-teaching staff, and teaching colleagues are invited to join the professors on guided tours to Belize, a natural paradise located along Central America’s Caribbean Coast, and the history-rich countries of England, Ireland, and Wales.

Everyone who goes can do research, earn college credits, study different cultures, and or simply indulge their sense of wanderlust.

“When students experience something directly, it has the greatest impact on them,” said Hlebakos, who teaches environmental studies on the Menifee Valley Campus. “And with the increasing globalization of our world, it’s more important than ever.

Hlebakos, who earned his doctorate studying rain forests from Panama to Mexico, will lead a week-long trip to Belize in Central America next March during the spring break. There, students will zip-line through a forest and visit an ancient Mayan temple. And Blake, an English professor at the Menifee Valley Campus, will lead a group on a 10-day tour of England, Ireland and Wales in June during the summer break. One of the highlights of that tour will be a visit to the mysterious Stonehenge formation.

Travel study trips cost $2,770 to $3,864 and include airfare, lodging, most meals, and guided tours. Payment plans are available, with each adventure limited to about 20 students. December 15 is the deadline to apply for the upcoming trip to Belize.

Spots are still available for both tours.

As one of the Inland Empire’s most innovative and acclaimed educational institutions, Mt. San Jacinto College believes that learning takes place in the classroom and the world around us. For that reason, students are given many opportunities to explore different environments.

Learning experiences

The Menifee Valley Campus took its first travel study trips in the 1990s when Art Professor John Seed took students to Europe to show them firsthand the works of the Great Masters.

A year ago, Hlebakos and Blake began planning the 2016 tours.  The professors themselves talk up the trips to arouse the curiosity of potential travelers and line up tour members. Travel agencies handle the actual tour arrangements from there.

One of the best parts of these tours is opening up the world to students who may have never traveled outside the country before. Many of them never even had a passport.

These academic sojourns offer many other benefits beyond the sheer experience of foreign travel. Students can earn one to three credits for a research project, which must be finished during the semester of their tour. Some students already know their areas of research. Besides earning academic credit, students can also enhance their college applications and resumes with international experience.

For Hlebakos, and Blake, the tours are about giving students a once-in-a-life experience that will last forever.

“These trips abroad create a thirst for learning and a love of travel,” Blake said. “And that’s what makes life worth living.”

For further information, please contact the professors via email: jhlebakos@msjc.edu and tblake@msjc.edu

Trip Details:

Belize: EFCST.COM/1725759DJ
England, Ireland and Wales: EFCST.COM/1725792ED

Professor Jason Hlebakos (left) and Professor Ted Blake (right) will take students and other employees of the Menifee campus of Mt. San Jacinto College abroad on travel study trips in 2016. During spring break, Hlebakos will lead a delegation to Belize, a natural paradise located along Central America’s Caribbean Coast. During the summer recess, Blake will take travelers to the history-rich countries of England, Ireland and Wales. Students can earn college credit for doing research projects.