By Victoria Kantymyr’15 and Angelika Kowalska’15
Ciao Italia! 43 students visited Italy and the island of Sicily during the annual spring break trip to Europe. This trip, run by EF tours and organized by biology teacher Lawrence Kolotkin, brought lots of smiles, adventures and created new friendships.
“The best experience for a teacher is to broaden a student’s learning experience beyond the school setting,” said Mr. Pieter Chicofsky, a history teacher.
The Education First Tours, better known as EF Tours, has Mr. Kolotkin’s trust in helping him organize this trip. This organization helps to book the international flights, hotels, tours, dinners and all transportation for the trip while trying to get the cheapest price possible for the students. Mr. Kolotkin later informs them about any additional excursions the children are interested which are later added to the bill. In the end, students got a direct flight to Rome and got to visit a total of six different cities and a volcano for a total price of $3200.
“EF allows students to expand their knowledge by exploring the world at a cheaper price,” said Mr. Kolotkin.
The trip began in Rome, otherwise known as the Eternal City. The students were enriched in culture from the start. From exploring the pantheon to viewing basilicas that were built thousands of years ago, there was never a dull moment. While in Rome, the students were able to visit the Vatican City and roam around the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. Textbooks and global studies came to life when the students got to experience Roman ruins and the Colosseum in person. As the day came to an end, the students spent the night exploring during their free time, and throwing coins in the Trevi Fountain for good luck.
“If New York is the city that never sleeps, then Rome is the city that doesn’t own a bed,” said Kadeem Adrian’15 jokingly. “They’re so similar in so many ways.”
Rain or shine, the travelers kept on moving and hit the waves as they boarded a boat to see the city of Capri in Sicily. They took in the little colorful houses along the coast which all held shops and restaurants at the ground level.
“Even the rain couldn’t wash away the simple aesthetics of Sicily,” said Arianna John’16.
Later, they boarded another boat to get a better view of the city well known for its lemons, and stared in awe at the clear water that resembled the turquoise blue crayon in a kindergartener’s favorite art box. Even though the sites were breathtaking, all the boat rides made it hard not to get sea sick.
“Capri was absolutely beautiful and my favorite part of the trip. We dedicated a day to the small city and felt as though we really connected with the area,” said Sarah Epelman ‘15.
The following day, the students headed for one of the most active volcanos in the world, Mount Etna. While at the volcano, many students decided to explore the volcano’s inner craters, while others decided to climb the steep mountain to see the beautiful view. The hike up to the top was challenging for some, but the experience was worth it. Once the students got to the top, snow came down, adding to the overall scenery. The travelers ended their adventure sipping cappuccinos and warming up by the fire in the cafe located near the volcano.
“Climbing the mountain was difficult, but when I got to the top it was worth the climb. The view was breathtaking,” said Karina Yushchenko’14.
The journey did not stop there; the students continued into the depths of the Taormina region and visited many markets that sold items that represented their culture. Two of the most prominent items the travelers saw throughout Sicily were lemons and oranges, which are their trademark. From limonchello flavored gelato, to orange and lemon souvenirs, it was clear to the travelers that Sicily’s culture was highly influenced by their agriculture. Sicily’s beautiful beaches and scenery also left a huge impact on the students. At each major beach view, the students would pull out their cameras and take photos of themselves surrounded by the alluring Mediterranean.
“My favorite part of Sicily was the beautiful sites. You don’t see mountains, flower gardens and green meadows every day in New York. I love the culture as well, which made it different from places I have previously visited,” said Aleksandra Syroyezhkina ‘16
For many, Pompeii was a dream come to life. Some students mentioned how they wanted to visit the city that was destroyed by the eruption of a volcano since they were in grade school. The city’s ruins still stand today, and it would take the entire day to walk through the whole town which was once a major port city. The still-standing structures prove how strong the foundations were.
The experience continued as the students traveled back to Rome and were given free time for the rest of the day. This gave them time to explore the rest of the city and as the students said good bye to Italy, they threw coins into the Trevi Fountain, wishing that they would all be back there one day.
“Every time the opportunity to sign up for the trip would come, I knew I would go,” said Felix Vesyoly’14, who has been on the trip for all 4 years. “I enjoy learning about different countries, their culture, and their way of life.”
Sarah Epelman’15 said, “As I go on these trips I get to experience a whole new culture and world. The new people, language, scenery, it all feels surreal, and my knowledge of different culture is enriched daily.”
Most of the students would agree that the trip this year was a success, and that they will continue on next year’s with Mr. Kolotkin’s yearly adventures. A destination for next years trip has not yet been decided. However, the possibilities include England and Ireland or the Galapagos Islands.
By Victoria Kantymyr’15 and Angelika Kowalska’15