Jamiez Vo poses for a headshot outside.

Lehigh Launch: Shifting the classroom perspective to experiential learning

The “Lehigh Launch'' series highlights first-semester students' experiences  learning about the literature, earth and environment, and peoples of Wyoming and New Mexico in Fall 2021. Jamiez Vo ’25, currently enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences, shares their experience.

​​Hometown: Phan Thiet City, Vietnam 

What drew you to Lehigh Launch?: I was impressed that Lehigh Launch particularly focuses on introducing disciplinary and experimental learning to first-year students. I thought it was important for me to apply my knowledge from the classroom to real-world problems. The American West would help me explore my curiosity and love for nature. As the program is open to students with all majors, it is a great chance for me to meet new people with diverse interests! 

What did you like most about Lehigh Launch?: The three-week backpacking with The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) opened a totally new horizon about nature and the backcountry lifestyle for me. It was more challenging to live with nature than I had thought. From sleeping in the tent under storms to doing a summit at dawn, the experience taught me how to be wild and present with nature. Moreover, I had a great bond with the rest of my group throughout our chances to lead the team, cook several creative dishes, and appreciate each other as a traditional reflection. 

What was the best thing you learned?: The best thing I learned is how to evaluate my observational and analytical skills. Throughout the program, we did numerous field trips that taught us how to shift the classroom perspective to experiential learning. It was not easy to make the right observation the first time. By practicing drawing objects and journaling, I have improved and asked more analytical questions. Being able to analyze through real-world observation now guides me to pay attention along with curiosity to wherever I go. 

What is a fun fact from the trip?: During NOLS, we learned to cook a lot of amazing dishes from a pot, mini stove, and fried bake. The best ones were definitely pizza and fruit cobbler. 

What is something you wish you knew before you packed your bags?: If I could go back to my packing day again, I would bring more lotion, sunscreen, and a camera! Because the atmosphere was really dry here, I needed more lotion and sunscreen than I thought. Throughout the trip, there were tons of incredible views from nature, culture, and people. Although I could use my phone, it would be an exceptional experience to keep my eyes on these moments through the camera's lens.