Out of the blue last Thanksgiving, Baker University junior Kim Kilmartin received a letter that would change her life forever.
Upon opening the letter, Kilmartin, who is a history major, discovered she had been anonymously nominated for an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to China and participate in a tour, as well as an archaeological dig.
Kilmartin said she was nominated to join in the International Scholar Laureate Program, which provides scholars with a chance to gain a global perspective and education through travel and learning experience.
"I was there for 16 days," Kilmartin said. "We visited Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu and Lhasa, Tibet," Kilmartin said. "Most of it was a historical tour."
Kilmartin said she visited the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, the Terra Cotta Warriors site and the excavation site of the Peking Man during her travels.
"We also went to the Potala Palace, which was the Dalai Lama's residence, and several different palaces and monasteries," Kilmartin said.
Kilmartin traveled with a group of about 60 other Americans taking part in the ISLP's Delegation of Anthropology and Archaeology.
"I was the only one from the Midwest, so it was a great American cultural experience, too," Kilmartin said.
According to the program's Web site, www.scholarlaureate.orge, the delegation provides scholars the opportunity to visit and participate in educational experiences at some of the world's most important anthropological and archaeological discoveries of the modern day.
Kilmartin also had the opportunity to work on an archaeological dig in Hong Kong during her time abroad.
"I worked on an archaeological dig for about half a day at the Han Tomb," Kilmartin said.
Kilmartin said the living accommodations on her trip were very comfortable.
"We stayed in four or five-star hotels, so it was really nice," Kilmartin said.
She said as a history major, it was an excellent experience to learn about the culture by seeing it.
"It was amazing to see the places that I've seen in movies," Kilmartin said.
She said she enjoyed learning about the culture through visiting in person.
"It's very modern, but unlike here, there's more of a community sense than an individual sense," Kilmartin said.
Assistant Professor of History John Richards, who has worked with Kilmartin at Baker, said the experience has made a positive impact on her.
"It's first-hand experience of the world, of different cultures, languages and people," Richards said. "And despite all the differences, (Kilmartin's) passion is archaeology, and she can see how that links people together. The advancement of knowledge doesn't have any boundaries."
Kilmartin said she feels she has achieved a greater cultural understanding through the experience.
"I knew quite a bit (beforehand), but no specific details," Kilmartin said. "You don't really understand the personality of those places and dynasties until you're there."