Two FMU programs mingle during trip to Myrtle Beach

Marking a first for the Honors program, students of the Honors and international exchange programs were invited to attend a group trip to Myrtle Beach on Sept. 17.  

 To commemorate a new year, an event was conceived that would bring these students into the outdoors and away from campus. Taking two buses, and with most of the expenses paid, students were free to join the group as it traveled from Cici’s Pizza in Myrtle Beach to the actual coast itself and then for a brief stop at Broadway at the Beach. 

“We sometimes try to avoid programming outdoor events during the hotter months,” Jon Tuttle, professor of English and director of the Honors program, said. “Honors Student Advisory Council President, Jacob Ballington, who pointed out we’re wasting the hotter months by not going to the beach. Logistically, it was a simple thing to work out, and I’m glad the International Exchange students joined us—we need to take them to the beach every year. I see this becoming a regular thing in September.” 

With the intentions of giving Honors and international exchange students a day to relax at the beach, the event was deemed a success with an attendance of roughly 40 people. The trip saw a mingling of Honors students and international exchange students, providing the latter a better chance to experience the community of FMU. 

“Sharing trips and events together with Honors students provide our international students opportunities to meet outside of their exchange group and become more integrated with the university,” Melissa Dungan, program specialist for international programs, said. “Not only do the international exchange students get the chance to make new friends at FMU, but in exchange our Honors students also can learn more about our international students, such as their home countries, cultures, and languages.” 

The involvement of the international students provides cultural experiences for this campus that students may not otherwise have experienced. For example, the international program participates in the Arts International festival in the spring and throughout the year are provided with opportunities to showcase the program along with other programs on campus. 

“This really helps to promote the study abroad opportunities at FMU,” Dungan said. “Many students may be hesitant to study abroad for a semester or take part in a travel study program, but once they get to know an exchange student, they may feel confident that they will have a connection if they go abroad. They also see that students, just like themselves, have stepped away from their comfort zone to take part in a once in a lifetime experience.” 

FMU is currently host to over 85 international students from more than 25 countries. The ever-growing program has several plans to expand their place on campus, with ideas such as an International Café planned to help integrate and introduce these international cultures to the rest of ordinary campus life. 

Combining the two groups has greatly benefited both, as the connection strengthens both the academic and social climate of the overall Honors program. With the success of both programs, Dungan plans to continue the integration of the international exchange program into all aspects of the FMU community. 

Upcoming events for the Honors program include a trip to Kreepy Hollow in Oct. 14 and the Fall Honors Trip to New York in November.