Category Archives: Travel

Scholars reflect on Japanese cuisine

One of the delights and challenges of overseas travel is trying new and exotic foods. In this video, the Scholars–who are preparing for their Jan. 4 departure for Japan–share their thoughts and expectations about Japanese cuisine.


Scholars prepare for trip to Japan

On January 4, 2017, the AC Presidential Scholars will depart for an 11-day educational excursion to Japan. Prior to the trip, they discussed their expectations for the experience.

Overseas travel reinforces importance of studying history

by Citlaly Zamarripa, Presidential Scholar, pre-physician’s assistant major
Most young people don
’t understand that something as horrific as the Holocaust
could happen again. Perhaps it wouldn’t replicate itself to it’s entirety, but instead in new ways or even worse, to a greater degree of evil.

On the trip to Lithuania and Poland with the Presidential Scholars, I experienced first hand what it would be like to be alive during the time of the Holocaust, and it made me realize how little I knew about any of it, and how terrifying it must have been for the people who had to suffer though it. It also made me realize that I need to do my part in bringing back the importance of such an important part in history.

Auschwitz sign
“Work sets you free” sign at the entrance to Auschwitz during the Scholars’ visit January, 2016. The original sign was stolen in recent years, and this is a replica.

Before the trip I had about the same mentality that most young people have about the Holocaust. I thought we were making it too big of a deal. As awful as that sounds, there is a whole generation who feels this way and has lost touch with just how important this really is. We are letting the history behind this slide right by us because it has been talked about throughout our lives so often. Yet we do not seem to know very much at all about what exactly happened. I’m sure we could all tell you about Anne Frank or Hitler, but if you ask us for details of the time period or of the lives of those who suffered through the gruesome conditions of this genocide, we wouldn’t have much to say at all. What I find the biggest and scariest issue of our overall understanding is that we do not know how the Holocaust came about or the events that led up to it. We don’t realize that this wasn’t because of an evil person making everyone do as he commanded. Hitler was a persuasive person and people trusted him as their leader. People were persuaded into believing that one social group was the root of all their problems and that all of their frustration and anger should be focused on them. So they chose to follow him and they allowed him to carry on with his plan and eliminate anyone who got in his way. Who’s to say that something similar couldn’t happen now?

I am so grateful that I have been given the opportunity to see firsthand what exactly I was taking for granted. I realize that most of what I experienced overseas cannot be replicated by studying a text book, but I know that the magnitude of the Holocaust is impacting regardless of where you study it. Therefore, I encourage everyone to rethink what you know about the Holocaust. So that we may not let the importance of it die, and most certainly not allow a similar situation arise.

Looking back and looking forward

by Jack Truelock


In just a couple of days, I will graduate from Amarillo College. As I prepare to move on to Texas Tech, I am grateful for the opportunities I have had through the Amarillo College Presidential Scholars Program. From international travel to academic rigor, the experiences I have had at AC have shaped the past two years of my life.

In May of 2014, the Amarillo College Presidential Scholars traveled halfway around the world to Cambodia. Over the nine days we were gone, we learned about the Khmer Rouge, experienced the Killing Fields, and toured the amazing temples of Angkor. Born and raised in America, I was not aware of the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge; however, in visiting the Killing Fields, the gruesome and horrific details of this genocide became very real and emotional. In an emotional flip-flop, we even visited the incredibly expensive royal palace, most of it was gold, in Phnom Penh. As I reflect on the trip, my favorite memory is playing a pickup basketball game at the Olympic stadium in Phnom Penh. Although the people playing were of different nationalities, ranging from Spanish to Canadian to American to Cambodian, we could still do something like sports together.

Without a doubt, the Presidential Scholars program at AC has been academically challenging. But the challenge has not been without accomplishment. In Scholars Speech, I spoke on the radio station. For Texas Government, I participated in creating a commercial. Through Art History, I ran an event for the Amarillo Museum of Art. Finally, in World Literature, I worked with classmates to make a parody video. Outside of these classes, I have spoken to civic groups in both Amarillo and Canyon, as well as met some incredible people. In short, the classes I have taken have not only been a part of my education, but have also inspired me to learn beyond the classroom.

In just a few short months, I will be closing a door on this chapter in my life. However, as I look back on what I have experienced and accomplished the past couple of years, I am filled with gratefulness. Through the Presidential Scholars program, I have grown personally and academically. I experienced a completely different way of life in the international world, as well as received hands-on experience in a variety of subjects in the educational world. These experiences have given me a foundation to build on for the rest of my life.

Making a dent in the universe

–by Presidential Scholar and engineering major Brittany Love

IMG_1957Traveling with a group of people who just being around make me want to be the best I can be and who encourage me in all aspects of my life, as well as being around people who challenge me intellectually and make me want to understand more about the world, was hands down my favorite part of the trip. I have made friendships in this short period of time that I never imagined I would have. Second of all, the inspirational people I got to meet while abroad changed my whole perspective on how to change the world and of humanity in general. The PEPY organization we got to work with during our time in Nepal embedded in me a new love for humanity and awareness that my actions to change the world do not have to be giant revolutionary leaps but can be small hops for the people I encounter every day. The whole idea that “small acts of compassion can start a chain reaction” I now know is definitely true. The kindness, generosity, and genuine care I felt from PEPY was infectious and I could see it in the whole Scholars group. Because of the trip, as Steve Jobs once said, I think I have figured out how I can make my own “dent in the universe.” I am eternally grateful to be a part of the Presidential Scholars family.

Being Alive or Simply Living

A reflection on the recent Presidential Scholars’ excursion by biology major Amy Bannavong.

10806334_799900013429607_8124980957558481220_n       Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony,” and from our recent trip to India and Nepal, I have found the true meaning of his words. Prior to the trip I thought that I had the short end of the stick of life: growing up in poverty on the north side of Amarillo was, in my opinion, rock bottom. I never had the childhood that most kids had; everything from clothing to toys were hand-me-downs from relatives and my mother worked from paycheck to paycheck six days a week so I never saw her as much as I wanted to. Life was rough for my family and I, or so I thought.

When we set out on our trip I had no expectations: I wanted to go in with an open mind. It didn’t take a full day in Nepal for me to realize that I have been eternally selfish my entire life. The difference of how children are raised in India and Nepal as compared to in the United States is as different as fire and ice. Growing up I always had a roof over my head, clothes on my backs, and the comfort of knowing that food will always be in my stomach–children in India and Nepal however, do not have that satisfaction. I had never seen so many men, women, and children out on the streets before, yet these individuals seemed to be more tranquil and happy than any wealthy person in the U.S. Material goods did not mean anything to them as it does for us.

There were many things that impacted my life while our time overseas: experiencing another religion, learning about different historical monuments, and experiencing unique foods; however, I feel the most valuable thing I learned over there was how to live. I have everything in the world compared to most individuals over there, yet, why are they so much happier than I am? In Nepal we went to an Ashram where this one individual, Swami Ji, gave everything up in order to buy land and take in orphans and help them survive when everyone has given up on them. Why? He simply felt like it was the right thing to do, to help others. His way of living is also astonishing. Here, every child’s brain is branded with the fact that we need to plan our lives… we need to make the choices that would give us a bright future. By doing this, we are so worried about what is going to happen in the future, we forget about what is happening right now. Swami Ji taught me that although planning is important, it shouldn’t be stressed. The one thing that I will value the most for the rest of my life is that there is a difference between being alive and living.