Press Releases
Tri-County Technical College

Anderson dot5.gif (848 bytes)Oconee Pickens

This release prepared by the Office of Public Relations and Marketing.
Rebecca Eidson, Director, 646-1507,
Lisa Garrett, Public Relations Associate, 646-1506,

Study Abroad Enhances Language Skills, Cultural Knowledge of Mexico

(By Lisa Garrett)

CONTACT:  Kari Daus Carson at 646-1383 or at or
                      Trini Tumlin at 646-1440 or at

  PENDLETON --- Julia Fielding says when she looks back on her time spent at Tri-County Technical College, the two-week study abroad trip to Mexico she took with classmates during the summer of 2007 is the first memory that will come to mind.

“It’s definitely a highlight,” said Fielding, a University Transfer major who plans to minor in Spanish.  “The best way to learn the language is to speak it and practice it.”

Seven students participated in the second annual two-week study abroad experience in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, July 7 - 23.  Students took classes at a well-known Spanish immersion language school and lived with local families.  During the weekends and evenings, they enhanced their cultural knowledge of Mexico through excursions to markets, museums and other towns.  Spanish instructor Trini Tumlin traveled with the students and represented the College.

Students have two weeks of pre-departure grammar, vocabulary, orientation topics and traveling classes.  “It’s very helpful because many students have never stepped out of South Carolina,” said Tumlin.

          Students spent Monday – Friday, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., at the Experiencia Centro Cultural, A.C.  “The school evaluates the students’ abilities individually and places them in a class of less than six students at the same level,” said Tumlin, who is a native of Cuernavaca, Morelos and taught at the school for five years before moving to Easley.

“Not only do our students have fellow Tri-County students in their class, they may study with students from around the world.  It’s like a family. It’s a small school, and they make you feel comfortable.  It really helps to relax and feel at home and not be so overwhelmed,” said Tumlin.

“Students stay with host families and are surrounded by the language all day,” said Spanish instructor Kari Daus Carson, who accompanied the group on its 2006 study abroad.  “Living with an Hispanic family that has been approved through the school is the most effective way for the students to gain a fundamental understanding of the culture.  As the students interact with their family members during meals and daily activities over 16 days, the learners naturally retain the information more successfully,” she said. 

“I saw a big improvement in their skills when they returned to the classroom,” added Carson.  “They were more comfortable with the language and were more motivated to want to learn and to be more fluent.”

Each evening the group met for dinner to discuss the day and their experiences.  Weekends were filled with day trips, said Tumlin.  “Students visited such places as Taxco, a beautiful city rich with old and new silver mines; Xochicalco, a pre-Columbian archeological site in the western part of the state; Zempoala, a national park where you can enjoy horseback ridings, canoeing, and other sport activities; and Las estacas, an aquatic park where you can enjoy swimming in the river or pools.  They also visited Tepoztlan, a small, ancient town where one can buy fresh groceries, as well as trying different traditional dishes and purchase regional handicrafts.” 

“It was blissful,” said Fielding.  “The city is the intellectual hub of Mexico and is a tropical oasis. The architecture is beautiful, and the people are so friendly and happy.”

Charity Martin, a University Transfer major from Central, went on the 2006 study abroad trip.  “I had never been out of my box.  I had never traveled abroad. I liked being a part of the group, depending on each other, and establishing those bonds and friendships. I would go again and again,” said Charity.  “

Students receive four hours of credit and are graded via an oral interview at the school, a presentation, online webCT quizzes and a journal they wrote to chronicle their experiences.

The cost of the trip is $1700 plus tuition for the class.  “My parents helped me, and I received a Spanish Club scholarship ($600),” said Martin.  Last year the WC. English Foundation provided $2,500 in scholarship assistance to the students through the College’s Foundation.

“I tell students that I know it’s expensive, but if you save $200 a month, you’ll have the amount by February, the deadline for registration,” said Carson.

“It’s worth saving your money for,” said Fielding.

Students may earn credit for SPA 201, SPA 102, or continuing credit for other professionals, such as area teachers for recertification credit.  The application deadline is Friday, February 15, 2008.

For more information regarding this scholastic and cultural immersion experience, contact Kari Daus Carson at 646-1383 or at or Trini Tumlin at 646-1440 or at  Interested persons may also consider attending one of the following sessions at the College:  
Wednesday, October 17, at 12:20 p.m. in Pickens Hall 144
Wednesday, November 7, at 12:20 p.m. in Pickens Hall 144
Wednesday, November 28, at 12:20 p.m. in the Industrial and Business Development Center