Studying abroad in Merida, Mexico was an incredible experience on many levels. We were fully immersed in the culture of the Yucatan. We spoke their language, ate their food, followed their customs, and even used their public transportation system. Each of us stayed with a host family and commuted to the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, where we took classes in Spanish and Anthropology. On our weekly excursions, we would visit different Mayan archeological sites that supplemented the course material and enhanced our learning.
Our trip to Mexico is the first of the Lombardi trips we would take during our time at the University of Florida. For me, one of the greatest aspects of this scholarship is being a part of group of intelligent, diverse of students that I could connect with. During our seven weeks in Mexico, we got to know each other a lot better and bonded over our experiences. Even before I got on campus, I made a group of reliable friends that I knew I could count on during my years in school.
Throughout my high school years, I strove to expose myself to unique educational experiences, particularly the study of foreign language and culture. As I studied and gained fluency in Spanish and French, I also gained a compelling desire to broaden my range of knowledge and to better understand the world’s rapidly changing social structures, foreign relations, and international development. As a recipient of the Lombardi Scholarship at the University of Florida, I was able to realize that desire. Experienced advisors and professors assisted me in designing a program of study suitable to my unique expectations, which permitted me to explore the world beyond the confines of the classroom while living and working abroad. As an undergraduate, I am pursuing a double major in Spanish and Women’s Studies as well as two minors in French and Education. This specific combination of degrees has allowed me to consolidate my diverging interests and maximize career possibilities available to me in the future. I am extremely grateful to the Lombardi Program for providing me with educational enrichment and enabling me to build lasting connections with an international network of scholars and professors throughout my undergraduate career.
My name is Tyler Davidson and I am a second year political science and linguistics major who is also pursuing minors in Spanish and Arabic. Being a Stamps scholar has been one of the most rewarding experiences during my time here at the University of Florida and has truly been an eye-opener and door-opener for me. It has given me the opportunity to travel all over the world from Miami to Machu Picchu with some of the most exceptional people in this school. Also, being a member of this organization has allowed me to meet other incredible people and helped propel me into prestigious groups and honor societies such as Gators of Tomorrow and UF Honors Ambassadors. Besides Stamps, I have had the chance to be a part of the Florida Gator cross country and track teams. This has taught me more about life than I could ever learn in a classroom and has helped shape me into the dedicated and passionate individual I am today. Overall, being able to being both a student-athlete and Stamps scholar has allowed to have a truly unique experience for which I am incredibly grateful.
By providing Scholars flexibility in booking flights to the summer immersion programs, the Honors Program gives Scholars an easy opportunity for extended travel. For me, these travels have been central to my education and the career I’m choosing to pursue. In the summer of 2010, after the Lombardi volunteer program ended in Cusco, Peru, a few Scholars and I hiked a four-day portion of the Salcantay trek to Machu Picchu (at thirty kilometers a day, and with our altitude reaching 4,600 meters, we were definitely happy to reach our destination). After Machu Picchu, we flew to Puerto Maldonado and spent a few days at a lodge exploring the Peruvian Amazon. Following the Amazon, I spent an additional month in Cusco taking Quechua courses at Centro Tinku while living with a Quechua-speaking host family. From there I was able to travel to Lago Titicaca, where I spent a night with a Peruvian family on Isla Amantani. I also visited the colonial town of Arequipa, hiked along the rim of the world’s deepest canyon, took a prop plane over the Nazca lines, and crossed the border into Bolivia (I was also stuck in a national labor riot, but that is another matter). Coupled with six weeks I spent after the Lombardi trip to South Africa, where I traveled through Zimbabwe and conducted ethnographic research among Chinese migrants in Botswana, these experiences have developed my strong interests in globalization, development, and migration. In the Fall I will be beginning the Stanford University Ph.D. program in cultural anthropology with a focus on Chinese migration to Peru—a path that would not have presented itself to me if not for the Lombardi Scholarship.
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