All students are currently writing their exams and I am reflecting on the past 25 days and anticipating the last day tomorrow as we head home to Canada. There is so much to say about this fine group of young adults but sometimes I have trouble finding the right words. I turned to Google for some inspiration and chose a few idioms or phrases about Rome that can be applied to the journey to this Grand Tour Europe Departure 1 Program.
When in Rome, do as Romans do
On our last day here I am trying to reflect on the last 25 days since we first met, most of us strangers at the airport in Toronto compared to the strongly bonded community we have now. It is truly remarkable to see such strong friendships that have been cemented on our Grand Tour Europe. This amazing group has been willing to try new things and have been asked to be out of their comfort zone numerous times too. The students have taken it in stride and adapted on the fly. This ability to challenge themselves to try a new type of food and room with another student that is stranger are just two examples of ways they have met new challenges successfully. “When in Rome, do as Romans do” is a simple way of expressing the need to adjust to new customs of a new place. Our students have done this so well that when it is time for them to move away from home to a new city and school for post secondary education they will be successful because they have already done it through this Global Summers Program.
Rome was not built in a day
It is safe to say your children are more seasoned travelers than they started on July 1, 2023. In this moment, it is hard to describe the impact that this program had on the students, staff and myself but we do know, when we all have some time to reflect on our journey that began on July 1, we will look back on this opportunity with a big smile on our face. Our last dinner at a wonderful restaurant was just a short walk to some of the most iconic historical sites in Rome, it was a wonderful evening of celebrating what was accomplished, a great group of young adults that formed a cohesive community in 26 days.
It is remarkable just how well this group connected together in such a short time but also how well they learned to live together with a set of expectations that may be different than home or at school in September. Yes there were bumps in the road or learning opportunities for students to grow. “Rome was not Built in a Day” but it is safe to say your child adjusted and grew quickly to the expectations of the program both academically and socially. In 26 short days we feel each student’s ability to learn and grow that we can confidently say they will be ready to ‘leave the nest’ of your home and take on the challenge of post secondary education.
To Fiddle While Rome Burns
Your children have a big heart and sound direction on where they are going in life, they are ready for what lies beyond high school. Last night we had the opportunity to sign their name on each other’s souvenir t-shirt that was purchased by Global Summers and the staff. Looking around the terrace it was easy to see how well the group liked one another as they all excitedly signed their name on every t-shirt. This group enjoyed being with one another, for the most part they went from strangers to friends and in some cases, we feel they will be lifelong friends. A perfect way to end a fantastic program.
Students did this while at the same time completing a university level course that was truncated from a 5 month semester to a 26 day course. “To Fiddle While Rome Burns” refers to the story of Nero, a Roman Emperor, who was said to have played an instrument while major parts of Rome burned. Nero was supposedly ignoring his duties as a leader to save his city to play an instrument, this is something our group of students did not do. I have been on many of these programs where students struggled to find the balance between academics and their need to fit in socially. Students were very committed to their academic course despite the distractions of beautiful cities and new exciting friends.
All Roads Lead to Rome (HOME)
We want to take this time to thank all the parents for raising such great young adults and for the support you gave to me, our staff and your child throughout the program. I would also like to thank our incredible staff team. Alanna, Eric, Gary, Nicole and Patti, truly were amazing to work with. Our team embraced experiential education with their classes, they connected with students to bring out the best possible outcomes for academic success and they also showed such great empathy and care for your loved ones while on the program. I could not have done this without them, they were always there to support the program for the entire adventure. Their tireless effort and passion for their subject areas and for creating fun activities for them made this program the success it was. Thank you all so much, we hope to work again another time.
This program is coming home today, Wednesday afternoon, but this program will live on, these bonds from this trip will not be broken, these new best friends, this new community, will continue on in Canada.
Have a wonderful rest of the summer everyone.
Jason Smith – Program Manager