The Harding University Navajo Studies trip — formerly known as HU Native — offers a domestic alternative to a traditional trip abroad, with a greater emphasis on outdoor adventure.
The trip, which is headed by co-directors J.D. and Kim Yingling, is offered as a four-week intersession course and gives students the opportunity to experience different Native American cultures firsthand — specifically the Navajo and Hopi tribes — and earn seven credit hours.
Students camp, hike, kayak and go mountain biking — among doing other outdoor recreational activities — in different areas of the American Southwest.
The trip itinerary includes stops to more tourist-like attractions on Route 66, along with historical locations such as the Ouachita Battlefield and Fort Sumner. Students get to visit parts of the Navajo and Hopi reservations, and hiking locations include stops at the de Chelly, Grand, Antelope and Bryce canyons, as well as other national parks like Arches and Zion.
“Our main objective is to get students to understand a culture different from theirs where they don’t have to leave the country,” J.D. said. “The Navajo and Hopi cultures are rich with history and customs. It changes your perspective to go as a learner of these cultures.”
One of the reasons the Yinglings wanted to start this program was to give students who could not afford the time or money for an international trip a similar experience in the United States.
“We’ll do a lot of our own cooking instead of going out to eat,” Kim said. “That saves a lot of money on the trip.”
This trip offers a similar bonding experience students get on a trip abroad since they go camping and experience other adventure-oriented activities with each other, J.D. said.
Audra Pleasant, director of Harding’s international studies programs, said that her office is still solely focused on sending students abroad and has not been approached about doing domestic trips.
“It would be a really big shift for [international programs] to move from all the resources and people of those places and do domestic,” Pleasant said.
Courses offered on this trip include Native American Studies (HUM 2750), Hiking and Backpacking (KINS 1330), Earth Science (PHS 1010), Sociology (SOC 2030), Wilderness First Aid (HED 2050) and Outdoor Living Skills (RECR 3500).
Anyone interested in HU Navajo Studies can contact the Yinglings at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (279) 230-4467. Applications can be found in the Ganus Activities Complex (GAC) in room 100.