The slideshow features images from the March spring break trip.
“Multiple students told me that the National Civil Rights Museum was really impactful, and that they appreciated how organized the trip was,” said Kimberly Yau, an associate director for ISSS. “Outside of Graceland, they were also commenting that they really liked the hotel, and the trip was super affordable. They are always asking for more, longer trips.”
Memphis, Tenn.— Kimberly Yau, an associate director for International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), spoke softly, clearly, and swiftly into the microphone.
Her voice cut through the noise of the humming air and cars that whizzed by on the interstate and the mumbling chatter that stayed on the oversized tour bus.
She was guiding almost 60 students through an icebreaker activity.
“At the end of it,” she said, “you will have met at least half the people on the bus.”
Every two minutes during the almost 10-minute icebreaker, students shuffled up and down the narrow walkway, squeezing between one another before grabbing a seat next to someone they, nine out of ten of the times, didn’t know.
After the short introductions, and a minor traffic jam in the middle of the aisle, the icebreaker ended and students, knowing a little more about the folks that joined them on this year’s spring break trip, returned to their seats, eager to finish what had been a six-hour drive to Memphis.
On March 15 and 16, ISSS and International Education (IE) traveled with over 50 students down I-57 to spend two days in Memphis.
They visited the National Civil Rights Museum then walked up and down Beale Street on the first day then stayed at and ate PB&J sandwiches at the Guest House at Graceland that night.
The next day, they visited Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, and toured several museums dedicated to the King of Rock and Roll before climbing on the bus and finishing the day at the Memphis Zoo.
Yau and Yun Shi, the director of IE, worked side by side to help navigate the trip. They mapped out every stop and worked together to get every person on board to where they needed to be.
They also provided breakfast and lunch items to help student stay on budget, while eating balanced meals.
Bagels, sandwiches, wraps with cold cuts, cheese, boiled eggs as well fruits, water, and snacks were distributed among the students, with big help from participants like grad students Zeke Hsieh and Suyeon Hwang.
Yau and Shi said the secret to the trip’s success was teamwork.
“We do a lot of planning and prep in advance to ensure that the trip goes smoothly,” Yau said. “But unforeseen things always pop up, and that’s where it’s so helpful to have students who step up and help out.”
Overall, Yau said students were quite pleased with the trip.
“Multiple students told me that the National Civil Rights Museum was really impactful, and that they appreciated how organized the trip was,” Yau said. “Outside of Graceland, they were also commenting that they really liked the hotel, and the trip was super affordable. They are always asking for more, longer trips.”
As students return from spring break to finish off the rest of the semester, ISSS and IE will continue to plan for several more trips that go into summer break.
For more information on future ISSS and IE trips or activities, follow the ISSS Instagram and Facebook accounts or visit the calendar of events on the ISSS website.
Analicia Haynes is the storyteller and social media specialist at Illinois International. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.