This summer semester, TWU’s New York travel study invited students to step beyond the classroom. Engaging culture and fine arts, students attended Broadway shows, art exhibits, museums, and world-class musical events in renowned performance spaces.
These excursions in New York deepened students’ understanding of how a Christian worldview can inform their awareness of beauty and provide new perspectives on artistic creations in the fields of visual art, theatre, and music.
The New York travel study was led by Dr. Joel Tranquilla and Rebecca Martin from TWU's School of the Arts, Media + Culture.
Singers from TWU Choirs performed at Carnegie Hall
What’s more, during the New York travel study, members of the Trinity Western University Choirs performed at Carnegie Hall. Conducted by Dr. Joel Tranquilla and accompanied by the New England Symphonic Ensemble, TWU students and alumni performed alongside choirs from throughout the United States.
Journey to a city bustling with creativity
For Juliana Snee, a psychology major with a minor in media and communications, New York was an optimal context for hands-on learning. “NYC is bustling with creativity in music, visual arts, and theatre,” Juliana describes, “so I feel it was one of the most perfect destinations for a music and theatre travel study.”
The chance to perform at Carnegie Hall was particularly meaningful for Juliana, who shares, “My grandmother was a concert pianist and she performed on that very stage during the Great Depression, so it meant the world to me that I got to share that space with her.”
Challenged to think critically
Beyond music, the New York travel study introduced Juliana to the world of modern art, “Visiting places like the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) challenged me to think critically about what different artists worked to portray in their creations, and most of all, to consider the creative process and how beautiful it is to translate the human condition onto canvas.”
All in all, Juliana felt that the trip was “an amazing opportunity to further my personal educational journey and grow with my fellow peers and instructors.” She is excited to continue pursuing her studies alongside a group of peers that she has come to know better through the travel study.
Deepening appreciation for arts and culture
Music major Shana Pierce was eager to be in “a city where music flourished” and take in everything she could in appreciation for arts and culture. As a vocalist and actor, Shana was particularly looking forward to seeing a major opera, The Magic Flute, and a production of A Doll’s House.
“I was challenged in New York to explore the truth and beauty that heartbreaking stories can hold,” she began. “Before going on the trip, I was shocked by how much of the art we explored had dark, sometimes triggering themes. I never fully realized why this art was important until we went to New York.”
Art as a reflection of the human experience
One of the enduring insights Shana gained from her time in New York was seeing the power of art as a medium for human connection. “Painful art can allow viewers and artists to engage in a shared experience,” she reflected. “The artwork that I encountered in New York was beautiful and disturbing. However, when I allowed myself space to be uncomfortable, I started to grasp the reason why art has such a spiritual connotation for me.”
“Art that reflects our human experience connects us on a spiritual level. It makes people feel like they are not alone,” she concludes. “From a Christian perspective, it acknowledges that we are broken, and yet God loved us anyways. It highlights the vastness and strength of God's love in a way that we can experience Him fully.”
Experiencing a different part of the world
Shana highly recommends taking a travel study. “Not only do you learn more about your field of study, but you get to experience a different part of the world,” she says of the travel study’s benefits, “…You get to grow in fellowship with your peers and find a safe space where you can express your ideas. Going to New York pushed me out of my comfort zone in so many ways. It was truly a heartfelt experience and one that I will remember for many years to come.”
Learning from the legacy of great men and women
Robbie Down, who is majoring in music with a focus on classical voice, was eager to join the New York travel study for the hands-on experience of fine arts and history. Two things impressed Robbie the most throughout the trip. The first is the legacy of many talented men and women who have contributed to the vitality of the city. “A large part of our travel study was learning about specific names of men and women who travelled places, developed organizations, built parts of the city, performed well, wrote plays, etc.," he says. "Although many great artists and entrepreneurs get forgotten, we do well to remember who has gone before us, and New York is a great place to remember many people who have made a difference in the world of art, including music, visual arts, and theatre.”
Learning within a hub of diversity and culture
The second aspect that impressed Robbie was the diversity of a city where people from around the world are drawn to work, study, and perform. “This makes the city a hub of ethnicities from all over,” Robbie observes. “I believe that this diversity enriches the culture and therefore proved it a fantastic place to experience.” Robbie lists enriching learning opportunities that showcased diversity within the arts, including Broadway shows, symphony performances, jazz bar shows, and street mural art.
Becoming better prepared as artists and educators
Emily Wiebe is an education major who knew that the New York travel study could inform her understanding as a future educator. “I’ve always wanted to go to New York within an academic setting, especially with peers and professors that I can actively learn from about the city, art, theatre, and all of its history,” Emily shares.
Indeed, joining the travel study changed Emily’s perspective of the arts significantly. “I gained a new appreciation for this field of study, especially [through] experiencing it with such like-minded people. I now wish I had chosen theatre as my teachable subject, and I am so thankful that this travel study helped me get out of solely my major and minors and broaden my perspectives,” she comments.
Growing academically, emotionally, and spiritually
Emily believes that the New York travel study has made a lasting impact on her education and growth as a person. “There are many pieces and experiences from New York that I will be taking with me for the rest of my life academically, emotionally, and spiritually.” Apart from wishing that she had more time to connect with classmates before and at the end of the trip, Emily expresses, “the travel study was literally life-changing, and I am so, so thankful that I had the opportunity to participate.”
About TWU's School of the Arts, Media, and Culture
Immerse yourself in what you love best, whether it’s visual or performing arts, media, or communication. Grow with others who are just as passionate and exceptional as you. That’s the beauty of learning in community. You’ll find your people here. Learn more at School of the Arts, Media, and Culture.
About TWU Travel Studies
Travel studies allow students to be immersed in a different culture. TWU professors lead the courses, joined by guest speakers who provide a local perspective. For many students, participating in a travel study is one of the most memorable experiences of their entire major, if not a life-changing one. Learn more about Travel Studies at TWU.
About Trinity Western University
Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is a global Christian liberal arts university. We are dedicated to equipping students to discover meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. Drawing upon the riches of the Christian tradition, seeking to unite faith and reason through teaching and scholarship, Trinity Western University is a degree-granting research institution offering liberal arts and sciences as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has four locations in Canada: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, and Ottawa. Learn more at www.twu.ca or follow us on Instagram @trinitywestern, Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.
For media inquiries, please contact: email@example.com.