‘We Have To Go Back!’

A group of 16 students and two teachers from three Warren County high schools, along with three parent chaperones and another adult toured Spain and Italy from June 12 to June 23.

This is the third year that Spanish teachers Jewel Rozanski of Eisenhower Middle-High School and Tabitha Waltman of Warren Area High School have traveled abroad with students.

When asked about the logistics of the tour, Rozanski said, “I work with EF Tour out of Boston, and they take care of everything. The parents paid most of the costs, but we did get a $4,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Warren County. We held some fundraisers, like a Pizza Hut Night, stromboli sales and Bon Ton Community Days coupon books.”

“They are really good kids, not afraid to try new things and they jumped right into the culture,” she continued.

Rozanski noted that eight of the students were from EMHS, two from Sheffield High School and six from WAHS. Other student groups from Oil City and Iowa were also part of the tour.

They discussed some of the differences in the different cultures, including driving habits. Waltman said, “Stop signs are more suggestions than rules,” and Rozanski added, “I tell you what, those bus drivers are talented. I wouldn’t do it.”

Rozanski explained part of the reasoning for the trips is to teach the kids that having a second language is an important skill, and immersion in a culture allows them to apply what they have been taught.

Gabby Enserro, 16, of WAHS, said, “I wasn’t very fluent, but I could speak enough Spanish to get by.”

She added, ” In Spain, we went to Madrid, Barcelona and Toledo. I liked everything, it was very ‘arty.’ Also everything seemed to be based outdoors, like the markets. We did lots of shopping, and we learned how to bargain.”

Waltman and Rozanski agreed that the Parque Guell in Barcelona, built by Antoni Gaudi, was a favorite with the group and is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

Natalie Peterson, 15, of WAHS, said, “It was beautiful. The architecture was just gorgeous. One of the best parts was definitely the artwork. We saw the Picasso Museum and visited the Prado.” The Prado Museum is the main Spanish national art museum, and is one of the most visited sites in the world.

She continued, “One time the hotel we were supposed to stay in was overbooked, so we got to stay in a four-star hotel.”

Robin Thomas, 15, of WAHS, described the Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona saying, “It was commissioned by a family, and was supposed to have 18 towers. It only has eight now, but it is supposed to be finished in 2026. They have been working on it for over 100 years.” The church was also designed by Gaudi.

Rozanski noted that they had visited the Royal Palace in Madrid, and the Toledo Cathedral, which is the fourth largest cathedral in the world. Chaperone John Montour described how a cathedral was meant to be the ultimate place of worship for nobility, and ordinary churches were for the common people.

Waltman said the group took an overnight ferry trip to Italy, and Rozanski added that the tour included rides on many forms of transportation, including planes, boats, buses, trains and the Metro, a subway.

Thomas spoke of visiting Rome, Sorrento, the Isle of Capri and Pompei, which was buried in several meters of ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. The two teachers explained that casts were made from plaster that was used to fill in the voids between the ash layers that once held human bodies, allowing people to see the exact position the person was in when they died.

Thomas added, “Probably my favorite place was St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.”

Waltman explained that shoes are made in Capri, and the short Capri pants are designed to show off the shoes. Enserro then displayed a pair of Capri sandals she was wearing.

Thomas added, “In Capri we saw Sean Connery’s house and Tom Cruise’s villa, and in Rome we visited the catacombs.”

Peterson said, “We saw the Colosseum, and you could see the areas where they kept animals underground. The stage is gone now, so the compartments are visible.”

“We had a really good zucchini soup, which was kind of surprising,” according to Thomas. Everyone agreed that the gelato was wonderful, but they had some difficulty comparing it to ice cream in the United States.

Thomas concluded, “I’m thankful the trip was offered to me. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and I probably would never have thought I could do anything like this at my age.”

When asked if she would do it again, Thomas replied, “I’d love to. We have to go back to see the Sagrada finished.”