College of Arts and Sciences to offer LGBTQ spring break trip

Kaitlin Walker

For the first time, the College of Arts and Sciences will be offering students the chance to travel to Greece for spring break.  It’s not just any trip though; it’s a class exploring gender and sexuality called Desire and Democracy: Gender and Sexuality in Greek Culture.

Nick Vasiloff, Education Abroad advisor, said, “This type of program will deeply impact students for the better. That’s why they’re here, to get a higher education.  It’s not just academic and not just intellectual, but it’s personal, it’s spiritual, it’s emotional.”

There has already been an overwhelming interest in the one-credit-hour program.  Molly Merryman, coordinator and co-founder of LGBTQ Studies at Kent State and the faculty member leading the trip, said they were expecting 12 to 15 students to attend but have already had more than 35 students apply online.

Students will be traveling to Athens and the Greek island of Lesvos, which has had a history of lesbian tourism since the 1960s.

Lesvos is located off the Turkish border, so there has been an influx of Syrian refugees, but Vasiloff said students shouldn’t worry about their safety.

“With the new refugee crisis, I don’t think it adds any layer of insecurity,” Vasiloff said. “It just adds to the importance and relevance for students to go there and study what’s happening geopolitically.”

He added that the tourism rate has not declined since the problems in Syria.

Tourism in Greece will also be a topic of discussion because it is the biggest industry in the country.

Greece was the birthplace of the ideas about gender and sexuality.

“You can find things that relate in every country, but when you look at its origins, there’s no better place to explore than Greece,” Merryman said.

Students enrolled in this program will be required to keep a blog throughout their trip.  There will be required and optional readings as well.

“I want to provide enough of a context so people can really appreciate what they’re seeing,” Merryman said.

The trip will cost students about $3,000 and scholarships will be available.

There will be a fundraising event featuring Susan Stryker, a leader in the LGBTQ community, Tuesday evening at 8:30 p.m. at Laziza. Half of the proceeds from the $50 entrance fee will go to the Gender and Sexuality Global Education Scholarship Fund, which will directly benefit students attending the Greece spring break program.

A three-credit hour course is also offered this spring, called Applied Outreach and Global Understandings in Gender and Sexuality. Students don’t have to go to Greece to take the class.

To apply or learn more about the Democracy and Desire: Gender and Sexuality in Greek Culture, visit the Office of Global Education’s website.

Kaitlin Walker is the international reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].