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A Trip to Remember: Blue Earth Area students travel abroad

By Staff | Dec 17, 2017

A select group of students from Blue Earth Area were able to take a trip of a lifetime across the ocean to Italy in June of this past year. Here, the students visit the Colosseum in Rome.

Bellisimo. That is one way a group of Blue Earth Area students could have explained their summer overseas trip to Italy.

Yes, Italy.

Rome, Italy’s capital city, with its iconic art, the Colosseum, and the Vatican; Venice with its gorgeous canals flowing throughout its city and the beautiful San Marco Square; Florence with its picturesque Renaissance art collections including Michelangelo’s awe-inspiring sculpture of David; Tuscany, Umbria, Sicily, and so many other historical places and stunningly beautiful sights. Who wouldn’t want to go on a trip to Italy?

Ingrid Chrisman, Language Arts and English teacher at BEA, brought 12 lucky students with her on a trip across the ocean to the country that’s shaped like a boot. The trip was first offered to members of the local National Honors Society, then opened to other students who were eligible to attend the trip.

Bennett Petersen, Maygan Core, Benjamin Backstrom, Andrea Lawrence, Matthew Meier, Jacob Chrisman, Joshua Chrisman, Ciara Hurley, Jennifer Scheid, Laura Guthmiller, Rachel Mensing and Olivia Myers all joined their teacher and chaperone on the trip of a lifetime last June.

The BEA students who ventured to Italy visit St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. Their teacher, Ingrid Chrisman, joined them on their adventure abroad.

How did these students choose Italy, you ask? Well, with the proper guidance from Chrisman as far as current political climates and self-sufficiency was concerned, the students took a vote as to which country they would like to visit, and Italy won the vote.

Both Bennett Petersen and Maygan Core shared their experiences with the Faribault County Register on their time in Italy.

The student’s first impression of their trip overseas was the flight itself. Petersen recollects being up for a solid 29 hours from leaving the BEA school to landing in Italy, with a flight exchange stop in Amsterdam. He even remembers seeing the mountains as the plane flew over Sweden.

In Italy, the students saw a plethora of destinations including Rome, where they dressed in gladiator garb and used real gladiator swords and bows to mimic a moment in the life of a gladiator. Also while in Rome, they visited the Vatican, which, for Petersen, was a very personal experience.

“Being a Catholic and visiting the Vatican City and the main hub of Catholicism was a pretty real moment for me,” says Petersen, who actually spent his 18th birthday in Italy. “Looking up at the Sistine Chapel ceiling and being where the Pope actually is was breath-taking.”

BEA’s students traveled along side a few other student groups from the U.S. hailing from Indiana, New Mexico, and Arizona. In the Sistine Chapel, students were told they had to be absolutely silent, with guards every few feet, weapons at the ready.

“It didn’t feel as intimidating as it sounds,” says Core.

“I actually felt safer,” Petersen agrees.

The students also toured the city of Venice with what the students called an “incredibly unique,” and “amazing” environment.

These young Buccaneers went to Florence where they saw a soccer game, toured the gardens of Florence and danced in the square. They also were able to view Michelangelo’s sculpture, “David.”

“If you look at the way his physique is set up, you can see a look of determination on his face, staring down Goliath with no fear,” says Chrisman of the priceless masterpiece. “The interesting thing of it is we don’t know if it was before or after David defeated Goliath. So he could have a face that is saying, ‘I just won,’ or he has a face that is saying, ‘I am going to win.’ It was incredible.”

They visited the Basilica, the Pantheon, and the historic city of Pompei, where an ancient volcano covered the city, and its people, in lava.

“That city was so advanced for its time,” says Chrisman.

“It’s true! They had these incredible crosswalks throughout the city and mosaics that have stuck around this long! Those poor people had no idea the volcano would erupt,” says Core.

But, as the students found out, some of the ancient people of Pompei had some idea of what was to come, but the townspeople said nothing would happen. It was a reminder to all of the students that Mother Nature is as unpredictable as they come.

Along with making Italian food from scratch, dancing the “Tarantella” dance, and swimming by the Isle of Capri, visiting the coast of San Gimignano, riding in a bullet train, and seeing a number of other sites, the students were able to get a full experience of what it was like living in Italy.

For Core, the trip to San Gimignano was a true eye-opener for her and the future she sees for herself. You see, Core is planning on becoming a meteorologist. And during their time in the waters of Italy, Core was able to track a storm off of the coast.

“That was a beautiful experience for me, it took my breath away,” says Core.

As for the rest of the students, their experiences varied, but Chrisman says there were a few things she noticed about the trip, the human experience, and the differences and similarities in the cultures.

“I think the greatest strength of this trip was having the first-hand experience with non-western culture. We saw that people are just people, all of us are. We all have that human-level of connection that we seek to determine who we are and how we fit in our world,” says Chrisman. “We didn’t feel like outsiders looking in, we were a part of the culture and a part of the experience, and we learned to be open to new experiences, emotionally and physically. Our experience, in my opinion, felt really sincere and natural and interactive. It was a great experience for everyone involved.”

From this trip, students gained perspective of the world, perspective of themselves, and the people around them. They were able to see the world in a whole new light for 10 days, and able to bring that light back to share with others.