Vacanze di Primavera: April 8-15, 2017
Each year, GWCS organizes an optional international educational tour to visit places we’ve learned about in school. Immersing our students in new cultures – surrounded by the people, the language, the food, and the way of life - creates inspirational moments that can’t be listed in an itinerary, they can only be experienced. GWCS students embrace these incredible opportunities and they come back changed; more worldly.
As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, it is critical for our students to become more culturally aware and globally-minded. To be able to experience the global classroom first-hand and see subjects they have been studying in their classes come alive is life-changing. These trips offer students new perspectives, not only of themselves, but also of the world around them.
Spring Break in Italy was an absolute blast. We were lucky enough to spend an afternoon in Milan before heading out to our first official stop, Venice. In Milan, we visited the Castello Sforzesco built by the Visconti family (which was “huuuge” according to the students.) We wandered the streets of this cosmopolitan and stylish city and ended up taking pictures in front of the Gothic Duomo, Milan’s Cathedral, one of the largest Gothic churches in the world. One of this building’s most interesting features is its extraordinary roof, with 135 spires and innumerable statues and gargoyles. We learned a lot about Milan, and its history as the center of fashion, business, and finance in Italy.
Venice provided ample educational rewards for us. Being able to see the canals in person was quite something. Visiting the “Piazza San Marco”, The Campanile, and the Basilica de San Marco was amazing. We toured Palazzo Ducale where we let ourselves get lost in its beautiful architecture and art. To look out at the city from high atop the Palazzo was one of the best experiences. This vantage point allowed us to see just how fragile the whole city was: just a collection of tiny islands with thousands of people in buildings that were nearly a thousand years old. Seeing it this way made the whole place feel more special and vulnerable, and we realized what a priceless treasure it was to be there in person.
In Venice, we also saw a glassblowing demonstration. It was magical to see an artist make beautiful shapes in just a few seconds with the hot glass. An added benefit from this stop was the opportunity to take home some beautiful souvenirs made with the famous Murano glass.
In Florence, GWCS students learned that this remarkable city was the birthplace of the Italian language, opera, and the Renaissance; a place where famous works of art like Michelangelo’s statue of David still reside today.
Florence gave the impression of being like a puzzle composed of thousands of pieces: so many streets, alleys, nooks and crannies to explore! We saw the huge Duomo, which was bigger in person than anyone expected. We walked across the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval bridge where many of Florence’s famed leather and gold artisans keep shop. We saw a leather-making demonstration and we realized how soft leather could be. Also, we learned how to tell the difference between real leather versus synthetic leather.
In Pisa, we toured the leaning tower, cathedral and Baptistery. Luke and Max decided to take a glimpse from the top of the Pisa Tower. Seeing somebody sing inside the Baptistery in order to showcase its powerful echo was one of the most moving experiences we had in this city. The look on Luke’s face after witnessing this demonstration summed up nicely how impressed we all were.
In Rome, we were accompanied by excellent tour guides to take us through the ancient sites at the Forum, and the Vatican, both to understand everything we were seeing, as well as to allow us to skip long tourist lines. The ancient sites were pretty spectacular and it was impressive to contemplate the various historical time periods they had been through, in comparison to our own short lifespans. It was hard to wrap our heads around the idea of how a building that was completed 1900 years ago had managed to survive massive political, social, cultural, and even atmospheric changes. Pantheon and Piazza Navona were big hits for us. We loved their architecture and art.
We walked through the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel and we saw St. Peter’s Basilica. The art was amazing and the massive cathedral was extraordinarily impressive.
In Rome, we also visited the Colosseum. Listening to our tour guide, we could picture ourselves among 70,000 yelling spectators watching exotic animal fights or gladiators struggling for their lives. We also had an extra tour of Rome at night, where the world-famous Trevi Fountain and other buildings were even more mesmerizing lit up with lights.
On the long and exhausting flight back home, I overheard Charlie say that he was already missing Italy. I think we were all sharing that same feeling. This experience, all that we learned, and the memories of the people we met will stay with us forever, and hopefully, soon, we’ll have the opportunity for a new adventure.
Come expand your horizons with us and join us for next spring’s trip, destination TBD!
GWCS Spanish Teacher