Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

Lycoming College students get a taste of Australian culture during winter break

Lycoming College students get a taste of Australian culture during winter break

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While most Lycoming College students and faculty members spent the long winter break celebrating holidays with family and friends, students enrolled in “Colonizing the Pacific World,” rang in the New Year exploring Australia and Shanghai through a collaborative effort between the Center for Enhanced Academic Experiences (CEAE) and the College’s history department.

As Lycoming College’s first Winter Term travel course, “Colonizing the Pacific World,” allowed history students to consider how a convict past and British influence shaped the modern identity of Australia through firsthand experiences with Pacific culture. The history course was led by Laura Seddelmeyer, Ph.D., assistant professor of history at Lycoming College, who collaborated with Allison Holladay, associate director of global education with the College’s CEAE, to bring the combined learning and travel experience to fruition.

Students who travelled to Australia took the course during the fall alongside students who did not opt for the travel experience. Throughout the on-campus course, Australia’s complex history and culture became a prevalent aspect of the course, and the travel feature gave students the opportunity to focus more deeply on Australia.

Aside from an extended layover in Shanghai, which allowed for ample sightseeing, the travel course consisted of visits to Australian memorials and landmarks that exemplified Australia’s unique culture. Some of these locations included the National Library’s “Cook and the Pacific” exhibition in Canberra, where students were able to see the journals, images, and objects that became part of the British decision to claim the continent; the Old and New Parliament House; and the National Capital Exhibition, where students learned about the governance of a federated Australia.

Additionally, students were led by an Aboriginal Australian on the Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming Tour, visiting the original locations of colonization in Sydney, and walking the same path as British colonists in 1788. Geared towards Australian school groups, international students, and local or overseas visitors to Sydney, the tour educates participants on Aboriginal people who lived in Sydney prior to British arrival and features architecture built by convict labor.

"We chose sites that allow students to experience Australia and its uniqueness — the wildlife, landmarks, and topography — while also helping them understand how modern Australia is attempting to come to terms with its Anglo-centric past,” Seddelmeyer explained.

Students were also exposed to a variety of other Australian historical locations, as well as to leisurely experiences such as an opera at the Sydney Opera House, breakfast with koalas, Sea Life Sydney, and a farewell dinner on the Sydney Showboat.

Students who participated include:

  • Kiersten Arnett ’19 (Bradford, Pa.) — psychology major; criminal justice and criminology minor
  • Tamara Collington ’20 (Upper Marlboro, Md.) — criminology major; philosophy and law minor
  • Danielle Headley ’18 (Brooklyn, N.Y.) — theatre major
  • Diamond Olcott ’19 (Baltimore) — psychology major; criminal justice and criminology minor
  • Kianna Pizarro ’18 (Philadelphia) — business administration major
  • Jorganna Showers ’19 (Allenwood, Pa.) — political science major

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