LOTE students travel abroad to Italy this April


Seniors Nicholas D’Alonzo and Michael DiPreta take a boat ride through Venice.

Maddie Lane, Staff Writer

Over spring break, 29 Schreiber students embarked upon an eight-day excursion to Italy.  They were chaperoned by LOTE teachers Ms. Debra Korba-Rapp, Ms. Evelyn Joseph, and Ms. Carol Ferrante, recently-retired Spanish and Italian teacher Ms. Nancy Zove, and police officer Ms. Jeanne Osias.  The trip was planned with Education First (EF) Tours, the same company that planned both of Schreiber’s past trips to Spain.

Ms. Korba-Rapp, the primary coordinator of the voyage, chose EF tours because of the previous Spain trips’ success. The company allowed Ms. Korba-Rapp to customize the trip by choosing the itinerary for the students.  The planning for the trip started almost a full year in advance, and students were allowed to start the sign up process in April of last year.

Students who wanted to participate had to go through a screening process.  Students were required to have at least a B average in a foreign language class, possess no disciplinary records, and obtain a recommendation from their LOTE teacher.  Ms. Joseph commented on the requirements.

“Usually these trips are open to everybody, meaning people taking any language, but this one filled up so quickly that we kept it only for Italian and Latin students,” said Ms. Joseph.

Teachers organized the itinerary, and the students were left with the task of preparing themselves for the trip.  Ms. Ferrante posted reminders for the student travelers on her webpage.  Students were asked to bring $50 converted to euros, an umbrella, a raincoat, a phone adaptor, comfortable shoes, appropriate attire for religious sites, and snacks for the airport and everyday excursions if desired. It was also recommended that they make a color copy of their passport to leave at home, and that they inform their banks that of their trip.

Seniors Aimee Levinson, Natasha Mohan, and Hannah Kuusisto created a blog about their experience on the trip titled Italy Trip 2015. They described each day and included photographs, beginning with the journey from Schreiber to Venice.

The trip participants left school around 3:30 p.m. on April 1 on a bus to JFK airport.  According to the blog, “JFK was extremely crowded and international security lines were terrible.”  Their eight-hour flight to Zurich, Switzerland departed at 8:30 p.m. From there, they flew for about two hours to Milan, Italy.  Upon arriving in Milan, the travelers met up with tour guide Cristina.  They then boarded a bus together and drove to Venice, where they waited for a ferry.

On the first full day of their trip, the group boarded a private boat and set out to tour Venice.  They learned about the history and architecture of the city.  The group also viewed a glass blowing demonstration, took a gondola ride, and visited Doges Palace.  Ms. Joseph described their trip.

“We soaked up the sun, which I’m really glad we did because it was the only really nice weather,” said Ms. Joseph.

The following day, the group got caught in a storm in Florence. However, they continued to tour the city into the next day.  They saw the Duomo and crossed over the Ponte Vecchio.  Afterwards, about 19 students attended an Easter Sunday mass in a local cathedral with Ms. Ferrante and Ms. Joseph. The travelers reunited around lunchtime and then visited an authentic leather shop, selling a good that Florence is known for.  That night, they enjoyed a large family-style meal and a night at the “discoteca.”

The next morning, the group journeyed southward. Before reaching Rome, they stopped for several hours at a medieval town named Assisi. There, they visited the Basilica of St. Francis.

The fifth day was devoted to touring Rome. The students visited the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. They also got a chance to explore the city independently.  Junior Jessie Baer thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

“It was amazing,” said Baer.  “A lot of the kids who take Italian got to use it, and that was great!  We got to go to a flea market in Rome that had more food, so that was awesome because Italian food is amazing and the gelato was to die for.”

On the last day of touring, the travelers explored Rome’s Vatican City.  They visited the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Catacombs, which are ancient underground burial grounds.  Ms. Joseph discussed the impact of the exploration.

“Just experiencing the thousands of years of history in Rome was really awe-inspiring, especially because of the contrast between the metropolis and thousand-year-old buildings,” said Ms. Joseph.

The day after that, the group headed home. They flew from Rome to Zurich and from Zurich to JFK. The students enjoyed their excursion to the point where they found it difficult to leave.  Junior Emma Cisneros summed up her feelings about the trip.

“I absolutely loved the trip and can’t believe that I actually got the opportunity to be a part of such an experience,” said Cisneros.  “We really got a feel for the culture and atmosphere of four different cities.  Also, the group of students and teachers I went with was a great group of people and really added to the experience.  The trip definitely met, if not exceeded, every expectation I had, and I’m so happy I went.”