Bringing faculty expertise on Asia to Alumni & Family Travel

In her first experience leading a St. Olaf Alumni & Family Travel program, Professor of Art and Asian Studies Karil Kucera agreed to accompany a group in Bhutan.

When that program was announced, it filled within 48 hours. So Kucera agreed to offer another, staying in Asia to lead the programs back-to-back.

Now she’s returning to Asia to lead a program for alumni, families, and friends in Indonesia, specifically Java and Bali. Kucera’s research centers on sacred sites, so she custom-designed an itinerary to introduce travelers to what she calls “one of the most remarkable architectural monuments known to humankind” — the 9th century Buddhist site of Borobudur. With more than 2,672 carved relief panels and hundreds of Buddha statues, it is the largest mandala in the world.

Professor of Art and Asian Studies Karil Kucera (center) with one of the two Alumni & Family Travel groups she led in Bhutan. She’s returning to Asia to lead a program for alumni, families, and friends in Indonesia.

Kucera’s goal, while visiting the site, is to discuss with participants various theories as to why the site was abandoned as well as efforts to preserve it over the centuries. Her deep expertise and knowledge of the region will provide participants with a travel experience unlike any other.

Professor of Art and Asian Studies Karil Kucera leads travlers Bhutan.

And Kucera isn’t the only St. Olaf staff member bringing her expertise on Asia to the St. Olaf Alumni & Family Travel program.

Inspired by her Interim course for students, Associate Professor of Political Science and Asian Studies Kathy Tegtmeyer Pak P’19 custom-designed an itinerary for Alumni & Family Travel that provides an intimate look at Japan’s food culture. The program will put participants in touch with wholesalers, growers, producers, shopkeepers and chefs for a first-person perspective on Japan’s food culture. Travelers will enjoy dozens of different kinds of food and delve into beverage traditions.

Tegtmeyer Pak also took care to build in visits to a variety of sites — temples and shrines, gardens, urban districts, mountains, hot springs, and the seaside — to showcase some of the most beautiful places in Japan.

Associate Professor of Political Science and Asian Studies Kathy Tegtmeyer Pak P’19 teaches a class for alumni during Reunion Weekend 2019. She custom-designed an itinerary for an Alumni & Family Travel program she’ll lead in Japan.

St. Olaf believes that a global perspective is a critical part of being a student’s journey. And these are just two examples of how current St. Olaf professors also help alumni, parents, and friends continue to be knowledgeable citizens of the world. You can see all the upcoming programs in the Alumni & Family Travelline-up, which offers 12 to 14 programs per year around the globe.

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