UM-Flint History and the Wyatt Exploration Program
Since 2009, the Wyatt Exploration Program has allowed History students in UM-Flint’s College of Arts & Sciences to travel the world with their faculty—at almost no cost to the students themselves.
The program is funded from a generous bequest made by Dr. Dorothea E. Wyatt, the first chair of the Department of History and one of the original sixteen faculty members of the University of Michigan-Flint (or Flint College as it was called in 1956).
Each Wyatt journey is led by a History Department faculty member (known as the Wyatt Fellow) and explores a region and topics related to their field of study. Past trips abroad have been made to Poland, Japan, Wales, and London; others have explored topics closer to home, heading to the “Old South” and even staying in Flint.
Both UM-Flint History majors and minors are eligible to apply for the Wyatt Exploration Program.
When history major Monica Wiggins transferred to UM-Flint from Mott Community College, she was ecstatic to find out about the Wyatt program and its support for students. She said, “When I found out via email that I had been selected, I screamed, cried, and then said a thank-you prayer to Dorothea Wyatt. Having the trip paid for enables ‘broke college students’ to experience another country and culture that they might otherwise not be able to. It makes you a better informed person. You study these places and events, and then getting to see them first hand and in person is completely different.”
A Life-Changing Journey
The Wyatt Program is officially announced each year at a Kick Off Celebration. This year’s event, held in early September, included talks by the 2015-16 Wyatt Fellow, Professor John Ellis; department chair, Professor Roy Hanashiro; and one of the student travelers from the 2016 trip to London, Melissa Ormechea-Smith.
Dr. Ellis described his trip as a transformational experience, and noted how special it was to see London through the eyes of his students, saying “that is an experience as a teacher that is irreplaceable.”
Melissa Ormechea-Smith, a student of education and english literature, was also changed by her three weeks in London, England. It was her first time abroad and she was grateful for the financial support provided by the Wyatt Program. She noted that, while trips to museums, palaces, and the financial district were memorable, it was the chance to visit the resting place of Elizabeth I in Westminster Abbey that will really stay with her. Amidst awe-inspiring architecture and while being humbled by the sheer weight of history, said Smith “I was brought to tears by gratitude for the Wyatt experience. In that huge crowd, I had a profound personal experience.”
Smith is working on her secondary teacher’s certificate program (TCP) in social studies. She knows her experience in London will make her a better teacher and that it’s something she’ll share with her students. “I knew I wouldn’t be the same person coming home,” said Smith, “My perspective and outlook are forever changed.”
The 2016-17 Wyatt Exploration Program—titled “Germany: Land of Peaks and Valleys”—will be led by Dr. Chris Molnar, Assistant Professor of European History. Said Molnar, “It is a great honor to have been chosen by my colleagues as the 2016-2017 Wyatt Fellow. Now I am excited to have a chance to share my interest in German history and culture with the campus community and to take a group of students to Germany and Austria at the end of the year.”
Germany: Land of Peaks and Valleys
“When people hear ‘Germany,’” said Molnar at the Wyatt Kick Off event, “they think of two things: beer and Nazis.” With this in mind, Molnar chose his Wyatt Exploration Journey carefully—intent on showing his students that there are many more sides to Germany. He acknowledged the Third Reich and the Holocaust may be the darkest spots in Germany history, but reminded the audience that they are not the whole history.
Molnar plans to bring students to Nuremberg, Regensburg, and Munich—focusing on the Bavarian region of Germany and its Alpine mountain range. They will also stop in Salzburg, Austria. Said Molnar, “The mountains have shaped German and especially Austrian culture, and so Wyatt explorers will also have a chance to head up into the mountains to take in the fresh air, breathtaking views, and traditional alpine hospitality.”
Students will see the remains of a Roman fortification, visit the favorite seat of the Holy Roman Empire, cruise the Danube, ride a cable car to the peak of Untersberg mountain, and enjoy traditional fare at a variety of eateries.
Continued Molnar, “Those who take part in this year’s Wyatt trip will develop a much deeper appreciation for the complicated history and culture of a fascinating and beautiful country!”
Wyatt Events for Campus & Community
To be eligible for the Wyatt Exploration trip, History majors and minors attend a series of events in addition to the required coursework. The events consist of guest lectures and fun activities—most open to all campus and community members.
The 2016-17 Wyatt events include:
• Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Lecture: “The Many Faces of Munich: The Bavarian capital in the Turbulent Twentieth Century” with Dr. Derek Hastings, Associate Professor in History at Oakland University.
Location: 251 French Hall
• Saturday, October 15, 2016
Oktoberfest Celebration featuring a thirty-piece German brass band, a dance floor, and complementary Bavarian dinner buffet. Registration required.
Location: Flint Elks Lodge, 7177 E. Maple Ave., Grand Blanc, MI.
• Thursday, October 20, 2016
Lecture: “Terrorism and Security: or, How Did We Get Here? The Example of 1970s West Germany” with Dr. Karrin Hanshew, Associate Professor in History at Michigan State University.
• Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Wyatt Movie Night: Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
• Monday, November 14, 2016
Lecture: “The Modern Invention of the Medieval Executioner” with Dr. Joel Harrington, Professor of History at Vanderbilt University.
• Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Krampus: the South German Christmas Devil. Join us on St. Nick’s Day to hear Professor Molnar describe the murky origins, history, and cultural meaning of Krampus, the south German Christmas devil.
Full event details will be posted on the UM-Flint History website. Questions can also be directed to Chris Molnar at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Wyatt Exploration Program, visit umflint.edu/history or call 810.762.3366.
Applications for the 2016-17 Wyatt Exploration journey to Germany open in November 2016 and close in early January 2017. History students interested in being considered should obtain a passport and further details from the UM-Flint History Department office.