After months of anticipation, the day had finally arrived! 32 girls wearing purple shirts were buzzing with anticipation for what would occur during the next 12 days. This year the Brescia House School Consumer Studies class from grade 10 to 12 were given an opportunity to explore Europe and visit an array of beautiful Italian cities. We could not wait for our Italian adventure!
After a long flight, we landed in Milan and our long-awaited adventure began. Many shopping sprees, eating expeditions and cultural enrichment tours were experienced.
First stop, Verona. We visited the house of Juliet Capulet and left a special note in her wall. We then travelled by boat to beautiful Venice. Groups of 8 experienced an incredible ride through the canals of Venice on gondolas.
Next stop, Florence. We saw the statue of David and ran through the cobblestone streets in the pouring rain, trying to fit in as much shopping as possible! We were then afforded the opportunity to make a three course Tuscan meal, run by a very experienced Italian, at the culinary Chef School.
We also visited smaller islands and towns, like Portofino and San Gimignano. We were amongst the Italian rich and famous! It was Independence Day and we were fortunate to see a marching band weaving itself down the street. We also travelled to the small town of Orvieto, where we were given a tour of the vineyards and got to taste their homemade bread, olive oil and cheeses – yummy!
At our stop off in La Spezia, we ate an incredible meal and rested for our next trip to Rome.
Rome was filled with copious amounts of laughter and adventure! Here we saw the colossal coliseum and learnt how to make two different types of pasta from scratch. We made Gnocchi and Spinach as well as Feta Ravioli, which didn’t last long once it was ready!!
Last stop, the shopping capital of the world, MILAN! Here we saw the duomo, the first shopping center in the world and even visited the Gucci fashion house. Here we learnt about their fascinating market strategies, saw their new lines of clothing for babies, women and men as well as their famous handbags. We learnt a lot about the fashion industry. In Milan we also learnt how to make 3 different types of classic Italian pizzas, from the Focaccia to the Margherita – it was a lesson not to be missed! On our last day we had the opportunity to learn how Gelato was made inside Italy’s most famous Gelateria.
Going home with tired bodies, enriched minds and empty purses we knew we would cherish forever our memories of Italy.
Ally McCann, Savannah Curtis, Daniella Saffy (Grade 12 – Brescia House School)
Reflections From Abbot’s College
Every time someone hears that you are going overseas with a group of learners, they get that “nice-to-get-a-free-overseas-holiday”-expression on their faces. There are definitely teachers accompanying tour groups who see and treat it like that, but at Abbotts Pretoria East, we do it differently. The whole tour is seen as an extended educational experience. Not only where it concerns tourism in general but also to teach the students valuable lessons in life. The students are kept busy – very busy. They must see as much of the world as possible, get proper value for their money and be extremely tired each night! In the process, they see how perseverance can pay off: to have breakfast at 03:00, get off the train at 04:00, have a walking tour of Salzburg at 05:00 and then, in spite of the tiredness, experience the overwhelming beauty of the Alps in the early morning.
For two weeks, they must share their living space with nineteen other people and a room with up to three other people. Selfishness must all of a sudden make space for sharing, giving and leaving space for another person’s needs. Free time (shopping time!) is very limited and it must be divided between the interests of all three the group members. Students shape each other and valuable relationships are being built. And through it all, the teacher must not only keep up, but also be ahead of the pack – always positive and always full of energy although you only get an average of four hours rest each night AND you are double the students’ age.
You count the students twenty times per day and take “In loco parentis” very serious. Several times you may ask yourself why you chose to do this. Why would two teachers then keep on doing it? Perhaps for the silence amongst a group of students when they stand in the gas chambers at Dachau concentration camp and you know that this will forever change the way they react to the differences between human beings. Perhaps it is for the “wow” when a student looks at the artwork of a Michelangelo or a Van Gogh and you can see that, although he is not necessarily an art lover yet, he does recognise excellence. Perhaps for that very shy learner that comes out of her shell or for the outsider who are growing in self-confidence because he is being accepted in the group. Perhaps it is to see how learners get to know themselves and their abilities when you take them out of their comfort zones. Or perhaps it is to see how students start appreciating their parents, families, friends and our wonderful country when they are so far from home. And you know that you have played a part in facilitating that.
Then you start to plan the following year’s tour.