From SUU’s Office of Community and Academic Enrichment
CEDAR CITY–Southern Utah University’s new Community on the Go program has been taking community members on some memorable vacations recently, and those returning participants have been bringing back praises for the program.
One group of travelers just returned from England on a trip themed “Christmas in London,” where they took in holiday plays, music and toured Oxford University, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and more.
Launched in 2017, Community on the Go offers travel experiences to adult members of the community in groups of 20-30. Trip leaders are SUU experts that have previously traveled to host destinations and share their expertise with participants during their journey, although there is also plenty of free time scheduled, said Melynda Thorpe, Director of the Office of Community and Academic Enrichment at SUU.
“We are educators, and our expertise in leading excursions lies in the fact that our trip leaders also direct short-term study abroad trips for SUU students, and many have completed research in foreign countries” she said. “We’re finding that our Community on the Go participants enjoy our trips because of our educational focus.”
Jeb Branin, Executive Director of Experiential Learning at SUU, and a trip leader to London, said faculty members propose trips throughout the year, and successful voyages are chosen based on educational component, broad appeal and cultural relevance.
“In England, we selected sites that are quintessentially British,” he said. “London is especially magical at Christmastime. From the lights in Covent Garden and on Regents Street, to the many markets dotting the city, to the Christmas concerts and sing-a-longs at Royal Albert Hall — there really is a feeling of Christmas in the air.”
On Veterans Day, 28 Community on the Go travelers toured the sites where more than 160,000 Allied troops came by boat, parachuted from the sky, and more than 9,000 lost their lives in a battle memorialized as D-Day. The trip to France in November, themed “Operation Overlord: The D-Day Experience,” brought community members together in a group environment for an unforgettable vacation experience.
SUU Director of Ethics and Compliance Ann Marie Allen made the journey with her father, former Utah House Rep. Kay McIff, to retrace the steps of her grandfather, Eldon McIff, who crossed the English Channel at the same place on the beaches of Normandy during WWII, but not on D-Day, Allen said.
From the Churchill War Rooms where WWII missions were planned, to the beaches where Allied troops came by sea, and the shops offering French pastries that cannot be found in the U.S., Allen said the best part of the trip was the quality time spent with her father.
“The staff at Community on the Go did an excellent job planning,” she said. “In terms of travel arrangements, transportation, the sites that were selected — it was so seamless that it allowed us to really enjoy each other’s company without the burden of those logistical details.”
SUU graduate Katie Groves went to Normandy because she found a love for traveling while attending several SUU study abroad trips for students. After graduating in 2016, Groves resolved to see as much of the world as she could while young.
“I was a history major so this trip was a dream come true — it’s like study abroad for adults,” she said. “There are places in the world that you can read about and fall in love with, but nothing can compare to actually visiting that place.”
Southern Utah University Community on the Go has three trips planned for 2018, including the Inca Empire of Peru in May, a Dracula Halloween in Transylvania and Christmas in the Alps of Germany and Austria. For more information, or to reserve your spot with a deposit, visit suu.edu/onthego, call (435) 865-8259 or stop by the office at 136 W. University Blvd, Suite 003, Cedar City, Utah.
Travelers on SUU’s Community on the Go “Operation Overlord: The D-Day Experience” stand on Utah Beach in Normandy in November. Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University