For the first time, COD Speech classes are traveling to Alaska this summer to not only get their basic speech requirement out of the way, but to also explore leadership, ecological awareness, personal development, teamwork, backpacking and outdoor living skills. They will also visit Kenai Fjords National Park, Portage Glacier, Hatcher Pass and hike the historic Iditarod Trail.
For the past five years, speech classes have been going to Hawaii where they have gone hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, engaged in practical exercises, had speeches on beaches and mountains, along with classes on the beach.
The trips are for a week and before departing, the classes are focused on preparing for the trips not only educationally, but also physically and spiritually.
Full-time faculty member at the college for more than 25 years, Marco Benassi has led more than 60 COD field experiences including trips to Africa, the UK and many backpacking events in the Rockies and American Southwest. He is a professor of all levels of speech and intercultural communications. He is very passionate about traveling to study and getting out of the classroom to get a more impactful experience.
“It’s a real sense of escape when you go on trips and find yourself in the most beautiful surroundings in the world,” commented Benassi.
“By working together, everyone comes out with a greater understanding of themselves, their goals, and what they can accomplish.”
All of the trips are self-guided and each one is a new adventure. Students reside in a combination of lodges and campsites. The fee of $1,990 includes air/ground transportation, hotel lodging and camping fees, some meals, camping/backpacking equipment, wilderness permits and activity fees. Tuition for four credits is extra. Financial aid does apply. Many students from other colleges have taken their speech courses at COD so they can take advantage of these trips.
“Hundreds of students have gone. The maximum amount that can go is filled every time,” said Benassi.
Benassi along with professor Gib Egge, who teaches over 20 for-credit outdoor adventure courses a year, collaborate to plan and go on these adventures with students.
They both receive their wilderness certification every year. Twelve to fourteen students go on each trip. This summer will be Benassi’s first time visiting Alaska.
“I’m always up for a new challenge,” he said.
“It’s great how the college is so supportive of field studies.”
He would love to see more and more COD students participate in these trips.