From Japan to Italy: Students eat up trip to Mediterranean
Stars and Stripes May 4, 2008
Ask 20 teens from Camp Zama in Japan what they liked best about spring break in Italy and you’ll get 20 different responses.
But the one thing they all agree upon? Gliding through Venice in a gondola was "the bomb." And a day without gelato would be hard to get through.
Their reasons for going were just as varied.
"The food, definitely, the food," said Erika Natal, 17, when asked why she signed on for the recent eight-day trip through Camp Zama Youth Services.
For Anastasia Rogers, 16, an aspiring designer and artist, it was all about art and fashion. Less specific but no less enthusiastic, Danielle Franklin, 17, said, "I thought it would be cool, the chance of a lifetime."
And there were once-in-a-lifetime experiences to be had. Such as sitting in St. Peter’s Square as Pope Benedict XVI addressed and blessed the crowd in six different languages. "Seeing the Pope and getting rosaries for my grandmothers and my family, that was the best," Daniel Dulay, 17, said about his visit to the Vatican City.
In Florence, gazing up at Michelangelo’s 17-foot marble sculpture of David was also quite an eye-opener. From "Who is David?," to "Where’s his fig leaf?" and "It’s sooooo detailed!", the lessons overlapped art and history, as well as the human anatomy.
Mentally converting euros to dollars (about $1.58 to 1 euro) while bargaining with open market vendors in the piazzas was an exercise in math. Students shopped for deals on Italian leather purses, soccer jerseys, hoodies and decorative masks for the school’s masquerade prom in May.
And when it came to food, Italy was an entirely wonderful experience for most: pizza, pasta, risotto, prosciutto pannini (ham sandwiches), kebab wraps, cappuccino and the Italian version of Haagen-Dazs known as gelato. If anyone left the country hungry, it was by choice.
On a mission, Natal tried several plates of spaghetti carbonara before declaring a pizzeria in Florence the best. Rogers described her first tiramisu as "Creamy!" (or was that "dreamy") while Julia Kreag, 17, searched for lady fingers to take home so she could duplicate the dessert recipe. And Nick Jorgenson, 15, met his match in a 15-euro gelato that was way too "grande" to finish.
Four years ago, Camp Zama Keystone Club youth took a similar trip to Italy. "Kids said it was the best experience they’d ever had," said Chris McKibbin, Youth Center director for Camp Zama.
"We wanted to make it educational as well as fun," McKibbin said. "The kids learn about world history in school and they can now have a vivid experience in their minds. These are lifelong lesson trips."
Whether it was the gondola ride in Venice, meeting with David in Florence, holding up the leaning tower of Pisa, a stroll through the Colosseum in Rome, an audience with the Pope in Vatican City or exploring the ruins of Pompeii, each student’s Italian experience will certainly last a lifetime.
And for those lucky enough to have tossed a coin into the Trevi Fountain, let’s not rule out the possibility of a return trip soon. That is, if wishes really do come true.