On June 20th, 39 IHA students embarked on the trip of a lifetime. These students participated in a nine-day tour of Italy through ACIS, an educational travel agency. Students departed from Newark and landed in Rome. Their travels brought them to Florence, a Tuscan hill town, Siena, and Milan. This trip was distinguished from past IHA Europe trips by its focus on women’s leadership in the Italian culture. Along with typical tourist activities, students had the opportunity to meet with women leaders from MPs to farm owners.
The trip began with three nights in Rome. On the first day, students visited the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and Piazza Navona. There, students had the opportunity to enjoy real Italian cuisine with their friends in a local restaurant of their choice. The second day brought students to a whole other country – Vatican City! Students were led by expert guides through the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica, where they attended Mass. Following the Vatican, students received tours of the Colosseum. As for the educational aspect, the students first met with a journalist, Andrea Vreede, and learned about the history of women’s rights in Italy and the current status women hold in the culture. Then, students were able to visit Italian Parliament, an opportunity most native Italians will never get, and speak to two MPs, On. Flavia Nardelli and On. Silvia Fregolent, about their work for women in the political sphere. In particular, they shared their efforts to protect women from domestic violence. In addition to these experiences, students met with the women that run a relief organization out of a local school for refugees. They learned how the organization helps refugee families to assimilate into Italian culture. Finally, students met with an Italian Girl Scouts troop and exchanged stories and information about their daily lives. The girls bonded over common experiences at dinner.
The students then took off for the Tuscan region of Italy. There, they stopped in Florence, where they followed expert tour guides. The tours led the students through Florence, past Brunelleschi’s Duomo, and into the Accademia, where they saw Michelangelo’s David. The students then spent two nights in an “Agriturismo” in a Tuscan hill town. There, they enjoyed meals made from products on the farm and time by the pool. They traveled to another local “Agriturismo,” where they met with the leaders of the “Donne in Campo” organization for women farmers, including Regional Manager Anna Maris Dini. They received a tour of a women-owned and operated farm and appreciated the beautiful views of the Tuscan region. On the farm, the students made hand cream from the farm’s products and cooked their own pasta meal from scratch. While in Tuscany, they also met with Simona Neri, mayor of Pergine Valdarno, and learned about her successful projects as a female mayor.
Finally, the students set off on their journey to Milan, stopping at Siena along the way. In Siena, the students had much time to themselves for shopping, eating, and exploring. Together, they visited the Duomo and Piazza del Campo. In Milan, students received a tour of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the shopping center of the city. They had the opportunity to shop and dine in the Galleria with their friends. Students were then led to a museum that houses Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. While in Milan, students also met with a member of the 30 % Club, an organization that helps women to achieve professional growth and better navigate the workplace. Students spent their last night in Milan bonding over a delicious meal at a local restaurant and enjoying their final gelatos.
Finally, students flew home from Milan to Newark. They arrived as more cultured and educated students than they left. Señora Echeverría, Europe Trip Moderator, remarks, “Traveling classrooms to other horizons is my motto. Having the opportunity with colleagues to show our young women how to experience travel, history, language, art, and cuisine is the motivating factor in leading overseas trips for all these years. Making memories through these experiences lasts a lifetime and changes lives and minds for the better. Travel prepares! If I may quote part of our school’s mission statement, ‘By instilling in its students a sense of responsibility, confidence, justice, peace, and compassion, Immaculate Heart Academy prepares its students for life throughout the twenty-first century.’”
By: Kaitlyn Brown’19, Co-Executive Editor-in-Chief
Categories: News@the Heart