Via Professor James Danza, Assistant Professor of Geology
Anticipation builds. Tension increases as the van crosses the line. Students from the Oxnard College Geography Program are about to experience a new event in their lifetimes, one that many others take for granted. They are about to enter the State of Arizona. Many of our students have never traveled outside of state lines and some have never left Ventura County. The Geography Program’s courses and field excursions are a ticket to new possibilities, to expanded life opportunities.
Students piled into vans over Labor Day weekend en route to explore the rim of the magnificent Grand Canyon and to hike a volcano. The trip was coordinated with Ventura College and Mesa College in Arizona. Many of those on the journey had never camped, which made the experience especially memorable. On the trip, students learned about the desert’s natural features and plants, as well as the slow and steady geological processes that have led to the Grand Canyon’s formation. They hiked barren volcanic landscapes in the Sunset Crater National Monument, and spent two nights star-gazing amidst discussion of the universe’s origins. Closing the trip, a visit was paid to the Lowell Observatory where students had the opportunity to view the moon’s craters and Saturn’s rings through high-powered telescopes. Whoops and hollers of grandeurs glimpsed tellingly revealed that these made for “memories of a lifetime.” Camaraderie was in full force as the three colleges became one group of 55 happy campers; students and faculty interacted, learned from each other, and stories were shared by the campfire.
Classroom learning of geological processes or hearing about far-away places is just not enough for students that have not had life experiences that relate to these topics. Getting out and seeing and experiencing the world is one of the most important teaching tools, especially when it comes to Geography. Many of the students who participated in our Grand Canyon trip are eager to join in on the next adventure come spring.
About Professor Danza
James “Jim” Danza is an Assistant Professor of Geography at Oxnard College. He is also an urban planner and sits on the board of the Friends of the Santa Clara River.