MacDuffie’s March Break Destinations

Marie Hua, Senior Staff Writer

About a year and a half ago, a number of MacDuffie students and their teachers traveled to France and Spain. Now, two more international trips are approaching: the Galapagos and Roman Italy.

According to Head of School Steve Griffin, trips like these become available when a teacher can find a travel company and location, then come to him with a proposal. If the trip proposal goes through, then enough students must sign up for the trip so that it meets the minimum required number of travelers. What then follows is months of preparation between the company and teacher until at last they depart on their journey.

Latin teacher Daniel Taravella began working with the company WorldStrides for the Italy trip in April of last year. Taravella said that he chose to plan in association with WorldStrides due to their success with the trip that brought MacDuffie students to France and Spain in the spring of 2017.

The program provided by the company includes round-trip transportation, all ground transportation during the tours, hotel accommodations, meals (breakfast and dinner), educational activities, and a professional tour director. Students will see many historic sites and museums in Rome and surrounding cities.

“There’s so much to see; I’m sure that students who go on the trip will come home wishing we could’ve seen more,” Taravella said of the itinerary.

One location students will get to visit is Pompeii. “Even if you’re not familiar with Latin, or Rome, or classical history, it’s a fantastic place to see well-preserved buildings and get a sense of how people really lived in ancient times,” Taravella said.

Students might also get the chance to understand ancient Roman culture through activities such as training in mock gladiatorial combat and preparing traditional Neapolitan dishes with local gourmet chefs, he added. 

Similarly seeking an unforgettable destination, Peace Studies and Science teacher Greg Vennell worked with Holbrook Travel to arrange the trip to the Galapagos Islands. The trip had been proposed in the past but didn’t go through due to the lack of students who signed up. This year, Vennell is hoping that students will see the benefits of a trip to these islands.

“This is really a trip of a lifetime…[because in] the Galapagos, things are going to be changing pretty fast,” he said.

The students on this trip will have the chance to hike to the Sierra Negra, one of the Galapagos’ largest volcanos, snorkel with sharks, kayak off the white sand beach of Post Office Bay, and more.

Something unique about this trip is that for a few nights the students will be part of a homestay program where they will stay overnight and have breakfast and dinner at the homes of locals with at least one other MacDuffie traveler. This provides a unique perspective into the daily lives of “everyday people” as opposed to the tourist view, Vennel said.

Taravella and Vennell agree that traveling internationally is beneficial. “To see these places that are so important… in the history of the world” is a great opportunity for all, Taravella said.

“Any time you travel outside of your comfort zone you grow as a person,” Vennell said.

Sign-ups for the Galapagos trip close on December 7 and after that (if at least eight more students sign up) it’s all preparation until March break rolls around. The Italy trip has reached its required student capacity, but sign-ups are still available until November 21.