Foran students get a close look at Italy's architecture and history

Louise Uchaczyk, history teacher at Joseph A. Foran High School, recently traveled throughout the Italian peninsula with a group of 40 students, getting a close up look at the architecture and locations they’ve learned about in school.

The students visited Italy though the Explorica program, a company aimed at expanding the cultural knowledge of high school students. The group landed in Sicily on Feb.  16, then toured Italy for nine days before returning home.

Led by Uchaczyk and an Italian tour guide, the students, who signed up and paid for their travel experience, visited several monuments and historical sites.

“The Trevi Fountain was my favorite part,” said senior Morgan Preiss. “It was so cool to finally see in person something we learn about in school and see in movies.”

The Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and the most beautiful in the world, according to the Trevi Fountain website. It’s long and fascinating history, as well as imposing statues, held student interest for quite some time.

In addition to the Trevi Fountain, the students visited the Coliseum, Vatican City, Taormina, Capri and other world famous monuments.

Austin Cesare, also a history teacher at Foran, chaperoned the trip with Uchazyk.

“I believe my favorite part of the trip was visiting Rome,” Cesare said. “I’ve always had a strong connection with Rome, and the art, history, people and food stand out to me as my favorite part of the trip. I always enjoy visiting that city.”

Uchaczyk will lead another group of students to France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria this coming April.

“Travel is an opportunity for cultural exposure to different countries,” Uchaczyk said. “On this trip we stood in St. Peter's Square where the Pope would soon give his last message. The enormity of what the students would witness in the next few weeks will be remembered by all. As they watch the news reports they will know they stood where the voting for the new Pope took place and where the smoke will rise when the new Pope is chosen.”

Uchaczyk said travel allows students to connect to a different culture and language, and lets them interact with people on a daily basis.

“It gives them an opportunity to see first-hand monuments and places that they may have only read about in school,” Uchaczyk added. “Many students have used language skills which they have learned at school and now they apply them in real life situations.”

“Travel,” she said, “personalizes the story of mankind.”