A Q&A with Michon and David Weeks – St. Olaf College

This spring, St. Olaf College alumni, friends, and families will have the opportunity to hike, bike, and kayak around Croatia and Slovenia while learning about the region’s culture and history and sampling local food and wine.

Associate Professor of Practice in Art and Art History Michon Weeks and her husband David, pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Northfield, will lead an alumni and family travel program through Croatia and Slovenia this spring.

All of this is part of an alumni and family travel program designed specifically for St. Olaf attendees by Associate Professor of Art and Art History Practice Michon Weeks and her husband David, pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church of Northfield.

In addition to more than 120 international or national off-campus study programs for current students, St. Olaf offers around 12 programs per year for alumni, families and friends. These alumni and family travel programs – led by current and retired faculty and hosted by campus leaders – allow Oles to explore and learn new corners of the world.

While St. Olaf paused the Alumni & Family Travel program during the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the programs that were supposed to happen this year have been postponed to 2022 or 2023 – and registration is now open. All programs will follow COVID safety protocols and executives will monitor global conditions prior to the programs and make any necessary travel adjustments. The main goal of Alumni & Family Travel is to offer a highly educational itinerary shaped by the expertise of the faculty heads.

Michon and David Weeks bring both expertise and experience running programs abroad. Most recently, in the spring semester of 2020, you led the Environmental Science in Australia and New Zealand International and Off-Campus Program for St. Olaf students. The program was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it provided many valuable lessons – and made the weeks eager to lead another group overseas.

They took a moment to share why they developed the Alumni & Family Travel to Croatia and Slovenia program and what fuels their interest in leading lifelong learners abroad.

Michon, what made you decide to become a professor of art and art history?
I am a practicing artist and teaching art is one of my passions. It is a pleasure to work in an art studio where students learn and engage. I have a responsibility to work hard for my students and to pass on what I have learned to them. It is a privilege and a responsibility to share the topics that are important to me with others. I am pleased that my studio work as a painter is supported and encouraged by my colleagues in St. Olaf.

Michon and David Weeks (center) with their family.
Michon and David Weeks (center) with their family.

What did you like about leading students abroad?
Michon: College students are so fun to travel with because of their camaraderie, playfulness, enthusiasm, curiosity, and adventure. I also like to eat ice cream with the students and swim in the sea.

David: As a pastor, I work mostly with older adults so it was fun and pleasant to interact with younger adults.

What was it like to be caught with a group of students abroad when the pandemic started?
Michon: We were all disappointed that our time in Australia was cut by two months due to the pandemic. As a result, we missed 10 days of snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef and studying marine biology. It was especially tough for our students. Nonetheless, we trusted the decisions of the St. Olaf International and Off-Campus Studies Office as they monitored the situation and decided when to end our time in Australia. Their skills and support made my work as a manager a lot easier. In retrospect, I am so grateful that we were able to study in New Zealand for a whole month in February 2020 before the pandemic spread.

What made you decide to lead an alumni & family travel program?
David: Why don’t you want to guide a group of adults through St. Olaf’s Alumni & Family Travel? This is a great opportunity to explore other cultures, foods, stories and make new friends. In addition, the program is so well supported by the staff at Alumni & Family Travel.

How did you choose the goals for your 2022 program?
Michon: We chose Croatia and Slovenia to experience the brilliant blue glacial lake Bled, the sunlit Adriatic coast, the spectacular wonders of the Plitvice Lakes National Park and the historic towns and villages along the Dalmatian coast. We’re also excited about the backroads cycling portion of the trip.

We chose Croatia and Slovenia to experience the brilliant blue glacial lake Bled, the sunlit Adriatic coast, the spectacular wonders of the Plitvice Lakes National Park and the historic towns and villages along the Dalmatian coast.Michon weeks

David: It would be nice to see the professional cyclists Tadej Pogacar or Primoz Roglic, who come from Slovenia and are currently number 1 and 3 in the world rankings. The Pletna boats on Lake Bled sound exciting to me.

When leading adult lifelong learners abroad, what do you think will be different from leading students?
Michon: There will be a variety of people on the trip including professionals, retirees, and young adults. We will all learn from each other – and there will be no grade at the end of the program.

David: As much as I enjoyed leading young adults, our ages and life experiences were different. I look forward to stimulating conversations while trying craft beer in Slovenia and Croatia.


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