Franklin Pierce Students Will Take Semester Long Walk from France to Spain

Jul 27, 2015

Franlink Pierce Logo

Walk on the Camino

On Thursday, July 30th, nine students from Franklin Pierce University along with sociology professor, Dr. Douglas F. Challenger and his wife Laurie will depart Boston bound for Spain and the most unique study-abroad program in the country, Franklin Pierce’s Study Abroad Program on the Camino de Santiago.

The Camino Walk, as it has become to be known, is a semester-long program, which involves a one thousand kilometer walk along one of the oldest pilgrimage routes in the world--the Camino de Santiago. The Camino is a sacred path that dates back to ancient Celtic, Roman and Medieval times, and is walked today by hundreds of thousands of people each year who most commonly take up this route as an undertaking for spiritual growth. The Camino de Santiago was the subject of the 2011 film, The Way, starring Martin Sheen and directed by his son, Emilio Estevez.

The Franklin Pierce program begins in San Sebastian, Spain with two weeks of intensive Spanish language study at the Lacunza Language School and an interdisciplinary seminar taught by Professor Challenger covering the history and sociology of the Camino de Santiago and the anthropology of pilgrimage.  After two-weeks in the classroom, the group boards a train to Moissac, France where they will begin their two and half month-long journey on the Camino as pilgrims trekking through southern France, over the Pyrenees Mountains and across northern Spain all the way to Santiago de Compostela, where it is said that the remains of Saint James the Apostle are buried, and Finisterre (end of the world), the farthest point west in Europe. 

While this is the third FPU student trip on the Camino de Santiago, Franklin Pierce has had a tradition of taking students on long-distance walks for self reflection since 1969, with the first walk taking students from the Rindge campus to Nova Scotia. Subsequent walks have happened all over Europe since the inception, numbering twenty-eight trips in total. Professor Challenger moved the walk to the Camino de Santiago after he completed the journey himself in 2007.

“I constantly met new companions as I walked to Santiago. The easy way that people from all over the world could spontaneously create community along ‘the way’ never ceased to move me and gave me a taste of the joys of being a global citizen,” said Dr. Douglas Challenger. “The journey is an unforgettable adventure that engages students 100% in active learning and challenges them to grow on many levels--intellectually, physically and spiritually.”

Over the course of journey, students walk 10-15 miles per day. Each student carries a “Pilgrim’s passport,” a document that is stamped at each hostel, monastery, government and cultural site visited from the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela. Along the way students learn about different cultures first-hand, get to better know themselves and each other on the walk, and meet foot-travelers from around the world, from many backgrounds, speaking many languages and all with different reasons for undertaking the pilgrimage. Students keep a daily journal of their experiences in addition to writing a paper at the conclusion of the walk.

The students walking the Camino this year are: Kim Antunes ‘17(Brockton, MA), Margaret Bell ’18 (Wilton, NH), Luke Bernhardt ’18 (Milford, NJ), Ben Cobleigh ‘16 (Hampden, MA), Austin Mills ‘18(So. Portland, ME), Carolyn Palmieri ’18 (Norfolk, MA), Keenan Philips ’17 (Colebrook, NH), Maria Quagliano ’18 (Branford, CT), and Kaylee Redard ’18 (Reading, MA).

return to news