Baldwin Interterm isn't down time for 13 students enrolled in a Greek-studies class at Baker University.
M.E. Kirk's goal was to come up with a unique course for the Baker University interterm.
Renae Sharp secretly dreamed of an opportunity to visit her grandfather's homeland and meet her transatlantic pen pal of five years.
In "The Playground of the Gods -- A Greek Travel Interterm," both are finding fulfillment.
"I'm ecstatic," said Sharp, one of 13 Baker students scheduled to embark today on the course's centerpiece trip to Greece and the Greek isles of Crete and Rhodes. "I can't wait. This is a big trip for me."
The course is one of 34 interterm classes offered by Baker, which challenges faculty members to come up with nontraditional curriculum for the annual three-week session. It's one of five travel courses -- other destinations include Vienna, Costa Rica and the Caribbean.
Kirk, an associate professor of theater and communication who lived in Greece for three years as a child, said he wanted students to develop a cultural appreciation for the ancient nation. Eight days of classroom study preceded the trip.
"We're looking at history, mythology, politics, everything," said Kirk, who is leading his first travel course in eight years as a Baker faculty member. "I think sometimes people think of Greece as this dusty old country that existed thousands of years ago. I want the students to understand it as a living country."
Kirk said tour stops were a smorgasbord of old and new. Students will tour modern areas of Athens, for instance, as well as the Acropolis, the theater of Delphi and other ancient sites. A three-day cruise of the Greek isles caps the trip.
For Sharp, highlights will include seeing her grandfather's boyhood home, Corinth, and talking face-to-face with Mary Vasliou, her pen pal from Vasiliko. Sharp, a Baker freshman, said she never dreamed she'd have the opportunity to meet Vasliou, who she has grown to know through letters, photographs and tape recordings.
Standing in the way was a stiff price tag: $2,650 per student. Sharp said her parents took out a loan to enroll her in the class.
"My mom and dad never had an opportunity like this," she said. "They felt I should grab it."