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Trip of a lifetime

MSU students attend fitness conference in Thailand

Andrea Johnson/MDN From left to right are: Minot State University professor Terry Eckmann and students Liam Hayden, Jameson Hayden, Katie Clark, Bryanna Christianson, Alicia Feehan, and Nicole Hanson.

Minot State University students who attended a fitness conference in Thailand last month said it was the experience of a lifetime – and encouraged them to get more out of their lives here.

Professor Terry Eckmann, who had previously presented at the Asia Fitness Conference held at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Bangkok, Thailand, took along students Michael Chance, Minot Air Force Base; Bryanna Christianson, Sidney, Mont.; Katie Clark, Minot; Katie Eckmann, Minot; Alicia Feehan, Minot; Liz Gallardo, Vacaville, Calif.; Eduardo Gomez, Logrono, Spain; Nicole Hanson, Minot; Jameson Hayden, Lacey, Wash.; Liam Hayden, Lacey, Wash., and Lancaster, N.H.; Kristal Heth, Westhope; Maddy Lodoen, Westhope; and Sheyenne Schmidt, Minot.

Students, mostly physical education and corporate fitness majors, attended conference sessions on such things as group exercise, mind and body, leadership, strength and conditioning, personal training, and exercise science, according to the students and a press release from Minot State.

The students also had an opportunity to visit and teach a physical education class at St. Andrews International School. Classes at the school are taught in English and students are mainly from ex pat families or Thai families who want their children to learn English.

“I got to witness the swimming lesson,’ said Katie Clark, who was a swimming champion in high school.

Submitted Photo MSU students attended a fitness conference in Thailand and got to see the sights and teach a phy. ed. class at a school in Thailand as well as attend sessions at the conference.

She said children at the school learn swimming from the early elementary age.

The school follows a British curriculum, but physical education lessons are similar to those in the United States. While they were there, the kids worked on ball drills, such as rolling a ball and throwing it overhand.

Hanson said she was impressed by how well behaved the children are, though that might have had something to do with them being on their best behavior for the foreign visitors.

The MSU students learned that there are opportunities for people to work as teachers for up to two years at schools in countries like Thailand, which could give them an opportunity to see the world.

The prospect of teaching in a foreign country was appealing to some of the group.

“I want to become a traveling teacher,” said Feehan.

Students also had an opportunity to go on excursions that took them to different parts of Thailand, including zip lining, repelling, kayaking, ATV tours, and a tour of the islands. They also had a chance to visit an elephant sanctuary.

The students also enjoyed getting to know one another and the other people at the conference, who came from 39 different countries.

Liam Hayden said one of his favorite classes at the conference was a dance class. Body language was universal, even though people spoke multiple different languages.

“We were all just smiling and having a good time,” he said.

The students also found that they navigated the streets of Bangkok pretty well, even though they did not speak Thai. They used the Thai word for “thank you” quite a bit and found ways to make their wishes known.

They enjoyed foods like white rice, sushi, and different types of seafood and chicken.

Jameson Hayden said the trip made him feel alive. They packed so much into every day that he is now more aware of how he uses his time when he is on campus. He tries to meet someone new every day or do something new.

“Dr. Eckmann’s motto is “Dream it – Plan it – Do it” and that is exactly what we did,” said Hanson in an email. “Dr. Eckmann let us know about the trip for the Asia Fitness Conference roughly a year in advance, and from that moment we heard the invitation to join her, it became a dream ( a burning, passion filled dream ). This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel and learn about fitness from around the world and we were going to do everything we could to get there! We planned many fundraising events throughout the winter, summer, and spring! Then we did it! And we came back with new visions for our future! This trip was so eye opening and I strive to live my life more mindfully and filled with gratitude! This is a motto to apply to every aspect of life! I am going to continue using it as new doors open! Anything is possible! “

The 2018 conference was the 10th annual event, attracting over 1,200 students from 63 countries. It featured 60 internationally known presenters from around the world, including Eckmann. Along with multiple sessions each day, the event also featured an exhibition and showcase stage with the latest in fitness equipment, gear, and educational products and six competitions including Fitness Idol, Personal Trainer of the Year, CWL Olympic Lifting Sport Competition, IKFF Kettlebell Competition, The Powerlifting Open; and AFC Fit Games, according to the press release from Minot State.

Eckmann said the students also won medals for being engaged participants at the conference.

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