While many WA teenagers hit the beach, movies or rested at home these past holidays, ten students from Chisholm Catholic College spent their break soaking up culture and improving their language skills on a study tour of Italy.
Accompanied by Deputy Principal Fiona Millimaci and Italian teacher Massimo Cugola, the students from Year 10 to Year 12 attended language courses and visited famous landmarks and tourist spots including the Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Mrs Millimaci said Chisholm has been sending Italian students to Italy every two years since 2009 and had established an exchange partnership with the college’s sister school, Liceo Classico Cicognini-Rodari in Prato, Tuscany in 2011.
“We visit various famous cities in Italy such as Milano, Venezia, Verona, Roma, Firenze, Pompei, Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast,” she said.
The highlight for the students, however, was the time spent with their host families in Prato, where they attended school and experienced a typical Italian teenage lifestyle.
“Bonds are quickly formed; Italian and English proficiency improves, and many students make life-long global friends,” Mrs Millimaci said.
“For me, a successful study tour is one where the students embrace the language and culture of Italy and develop a love of the people they meet.
“Seeing life-long global friendships form and their passion grow for all things Italian is immensely satisfying.”
Tour participant Elly Heal (Year 11) said it was one of the greatest experiences of her life.
“The amazing memories and highlights of the study tour for me personally were travelling and exploring the cities we visited in Italia, especially Verona, Venezia, Positano and Roma,” she said.
“These cities are special to me because while we were having so much fun, learning about the unique culture and ancient history … I felt at the same time our small group bonded very well.”
Elly said the tour had taught her about the importance of family, heritage, history and background to the Italian people.
“I have learnt how history plays an important role in the culture of Italy and what the country represents and why Italians hold these values and customs dear to them,” she said.
Chisholm offers extra-curricular tours like the Italian one because the College believes that learning a language is the best way to learn about another culture.
“The study tour is the best way to demonstrate this belief and to challenge our students’ mind frame with the values and the customs of a completely different culture such as the Italian one,” Mrs Millimaci said.
“Students can experience first-hand the language, customs, beauty and culture of Italy and it takes their learning and understanding of Italian to another level.”
According to Mrs Millimaci, Italian history comes alive in cities like Pompei and Rome, helping students understand the connection between those ancient cultures and the Renaissance, as demonstrated at the Uffizi Museum in Florence, and the extent they have contributed to shape modern society.
“It all comes together in the ‘Eternal City’ where they can see the transition of the Roman Empire from the Constantine era to the consolidation of Christianity and of the Catholic Church, finally celebrated in the Sistine Chapel by the fresco of Michelangelo, il Giudizio Universale,” she said.