Fifteen USM students will begin their journey June 17 to Iceland, kicking off a new annual program aimed at helping undergraduates get the chance to visit abroad.
All are rising sophomores who have completed 30 credits, earned good enough grades to be honors students in good standing and will pay nothing for their nearly two-week-long adventure.
Students will visit museums and art exhibits, tour the Nordic country by land and sea, taste its foods, see Reykjavik University and get a chance to visit Iceland's parliament.
"The Honors Travel Abroad program provides a significant opportunity for our students to broaden their horizons, to engage in the wider world, and better equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to play key roles in expanding and strengthening our economy here in Maine," USM President Glenn Cummings said.
A three-year $481,990 grant from the Maine Economic Improvement Fund is picking up much of the travel expenses. Additional travel funding was provided by the Dara Kaufman Fund of the Maine Community Foundation. The tuition for the accompanying course, led by Honors Program Director Rebecca Nisetich and other faculty, is being paid for by the Haglund Fund, an endowment created by the late A. Carolla Haglund '51.
To the students, the opportunity is extraordinary, Nisetich said.
Of the 15 in this first trip, nine have never traveled abroad and six have never travelled aboard a plane, she said.
During their stay, the students will be keeping travel journals and writing essays toward a four-week summer course, "Fishing in Maine and Iceland--Past, Present, and Future." Prior to their departure, the class spent several days learning about Maine's fishing history and industry in tours that took them downeast to Searsport and across Casco Bay.
Students are also contributing to class blog, found at usmhonorsabroad.wordpress.com.