On March 21, five Houston Secondary students — Angel DeBock, Emma Larsen, Hanna Cockle, Maggie Kenzle and Savannah Sommerfeld — plus Cindy Cockle, Dana Giesbrecht and trip leader Ruby Kenzle (me) left Houston for a Mediterranean adventure with Education First tours for 11 days. The group took four flights (17 hours of flying) and a 4.5 hour bus ride on the first day of travelling to the outskirts of Venice, Italy.
Most of the group had not travelled like this outside of Canada. In fact, one student had never been on a plane! This trip almost didn’t happen due to many uncontrolled factors, but travelling is an education in itself that this group deserved.
We experienced the ups and downs (literally) of travelling, running to some of our gates, having to be aggressive and push our way to the front of security lines so that we didn’t miss our adjoining flights (we’ll never forget Frankfurt!), dealing with hot planes, being hungry and sick and yet pushing through as a team and helping one another out.
I was hoping the trip would have a profound impact on our band of merry travellers and indeed it did. It really was one big fantastic history lesson as we toured Venice, Cinque Terre, Italy; Monaco; Nice, France; and Barcelona, Spain.
Each country had stunning and magnificent churches, museums, beaches, people and sights. Even the travel days to get to each country on our tour bus were beautiful as the scenery was breathtaking.
We bonded early with our fabulous tour director Fabiola, and we soaked up all the information she had to share with us on medieval cultures, traditions, politics and stories.
Some highlights were the gondola rides in Venice, the five fishing villages in Cinque Terre and the gorgeous Mediterranean sea, the beach and shopping in Nice, France, the art and architecture of Gaudi in Park Güell in Barcelona and the incredible Sagrada church that is still being worked on, cappuccinos and of course… a lot of gelato!
I was so proud of our little group as every day we maintained a hectic pace, mingled with 1.5 million people on some days, managing the metro in Barcelona, trying out different foods in each country and showing a level of kindness and maturity that was admirable!
Above all, it was how the students reacted to all the beauty, art, history and different cultures that made it so worthwhile! Having this opportunity to travel safely abroad piqued their curiosity about the world, about what kind of jobs they should look into so that they can travel as young adults. Or perhaps they would just like to backpack a bit after graduation or find work in different parts of the world.
Ruby Kenzle is the secretary at Houston Secondary School