An update from Stevie Rae, a junior communications studies major with a minor in psychology:

Our trip is coming to an end as we start our last day here in Gulf Shores, AL. It’s hard to believe we’ve been on this journey together only for eight days. We have been so many places, seen so much, and heard from so many people that it feels like it’s been a month already!

Coming into this class I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew we were going to be learning about the Oil Spill, but I had no idea what that involved. This has been the best experience I have had since coming to SMU. There’s something about seeing something with your own eyes and hearing it directly from the people affected that makes the impact and the learning experience so much more real.

After spending eight days immersed in the culture and environment of the people effected by the BP oil spill, I can now say that it takes so much more than reading about something in a book or a news article to truly comprehend what has been going on. If more classes were to take this approach to learning, I believe students would get a lot more out of it than cramming for an exam or spending hours reading out of a book. It’s so refreshing to take a course that throws all the traditional learning methods out the window and makes students responsible for their own experience, pushing them to find the truth and come up with their own conclusions about what they see.

I think I can speak on behalf of the entire class when I say we will take this experience with us long after we graduate. We have not only learned from the speakers and from our observations but we also have learned from each other. I wish we had more time; I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of what people here have to offer. I hope we have made even a small difference, and I know they have made a huge impact on us.

So thanks, New Orleans, Grande Isle, Biloxi, Ocean Springs and Gulf Shores! We’ll miss you and your good ol’ Southern hospitality!