Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute organized a field trip to the Capitol in the last week of July. Many faculty members from the Institute joined the students on the field trip. As all of the students in the Institute are from other countries, it was a great experience for them. This taught them more about American history and the history of the Capitol building. In addition, this trip enabled the students to build conceptual understanding and bring joy to their learning.
The students gathered with the faculty at the LCI before taking the metro to the Capitol. We started by exploring the the exhibition hall which is just after the security check points. Many students started taking photos. Then, the students were instructed to queue in a line in front of the theater to view a thirteen-minute orientation film. The orientation film, “Out of Many, One,” illustrates how the United States established a new form of government and highlighted the vital role that Congress plays in the daily lives of Americans. In addition, the film introduced us to the building that houses the U.S Congress. After the film, a tour guide was assigned to take LCI students through the main areas of the Capitol.
Professor Rose who joined the students on the field trip thinks that these kinds of activities are important because they help the faulty members and the students to know more about each other. In addition, she thinks that the visit to the Capitol will help the students know the heart of American history and this will help them in their future university or college life. Professor Rose added that it was a great opportunity for her to see the Capitol for the first time and she was amazed by the Capitol Dome from inside. She thinks that the trip would be much better if the students and the faculty members sat together after the trip for lunch.
Professor Abbas, who also joined the student, felt that she was visiting the Capitol for the first time even though, she has been there before before. She thinks the trip has encouraged interaction between the faculty members and the students and it helps to humanize the relationships between them. Professor Abbas enjoyed watching the students take pictures. “It was kind of fun”, she added. She also believe that these kinds of trips benefit the students. It helps them write better because they experienced and explored something.
“The field trip to the Capitol was enjoyable” said Salwa said who is a student from Saudi Arabia in level 550. She was astonished by the painting and the design of the Dome. She also liked the film shown to the visitors. She said “The film gave me good information about American history and the Capitol history too.” In her opinion, the field trip is an excellent way to enhance the interactions between students. Salwa also thinks that field trip should not be only to the historical places but to some entertainment places sometimes.
“The institute through this trip gave me the opportunity to visit this famous historical building where most of the decisions concerning the United States and the world are taken,” commented Ibrahim, a Fulbright scholar taking pre-academic course at VTLCI. He told us that the paintings, the design, and the big halls are the most things that attracted him. He added “I gained cultural and historical information. I hope the Institute will continue to organize such field trips to some states other than Washington DC.”
Outing-based learning is an effective tool for developing many skills for the students. Some activities including the field trips enhance the student interaction with their colleagues and professors. Such interaction will have a positive impact on student performance. The faculty members and the students seemed to have many suggestions f which should be taking in consideration when planning future activities.