The Maryville College Center for International Education (CIE) and Mountain Challenge offered an international camping trip to Chilhowee Mountain in Benton, Tenn., on April 27 and April 28.
The first camping trip co-sponsored by the CIE and Tyson Murphy, a program manager at Mountain Challenge, and Micki Pruitt, an office manager and ESL program coordinator at CIE, planned Mountain Challenge.
Since many students on campus like to plan on going on camping trips to the Smoky Mountains due to its close proximity to the campus, this camping trip is an opportunity for international students to learn about Chilhowee Mountain, which is one of the main attractions in East Tennessee.
Elizabeth Childress, an intern from CIE, and other leaders from the Mountain Challenge team were in charge of the activity portion of the trip.
“This is a great opportunity to spend time with your international and internationally minded peers in the great outdoors,” Childress said. “At the campsite, there is a gorgeous lake that you can swim or wade in if you wish to as well as a short hike to a waterfall on Sunday morning.”
“This trip is designed to serve three main purposes. The first is to expose students to the natural beauty that surrounds them here in East Tennessee and teach them about some of the local sites and wildlife,” Childress said. “It can be hard to find the time and transportation to take advantage of our proximity to so much natural beauty. The second purpose is to have students experience a common American pastime. This is often the first experience with camping that students have and it’s not something that every international student will have a chance to experience.”
Childress also said that the trip was designed to be a community building experience.
Finally, this is design to be a community building experience.
“We try and offer students opportunities to socialize with both American and international students,” Childress said. “Activities, like camping, are excellent bonding experiences, which is part of their appeal to Americans.”
According to Childress, during the camping trip, students had the opportunity to learn how to build shelter, a fire and cook their own food on the campground.
Nami Falhan, a freshman international student from Cyprus double majoring in engineering and computer science said that he attended the trip.
“I believe it is perfect for sharing different experiences and listening to each other,” Falhan continued.
Laura Pierpont, the president of Global Citizenship Organization (GCO) at MC, said that she expected students learned more about the local area during the trip.
“I think they also learn and experience what it is like to camp outside under tarps and really sleep in raw nature if they haven’t done so before,” Pierpont said.