A travel blog from Mr Stephenson, Second in English department and Post-16 Coordinator of English
Six Year 9 and 10 students and three members of staff were very pleased to visit Italy recently as part of the school’s participation in the Erasmus + Learning Mobility programme. Along with similar-sized groups from Italy, Spain, Lithuania, Turkey and Germany the Dallam cohort travelled from South Lakeland to Rome, where they spent a week based in Cevitavecchia, on the coast about an hour outside of the capital, studying and travelling within the wider Lazio region.
The Erasmus + programme operates on a round-robin basis, with each school taking turns to play host to their counterparts. Every day, the Erasmus contingent would travel by train from their base to a school in Marina di Cerverteri, where our hosts entertained us each day with an interactive educational session, built around the overarching theme of technology in education and then in the afternoon the entire international group of students and staff would visit a range of incredible historical and cultural sites.
On the first full day, we were privileged enough to meet the local mayor and, after a visit to a local primary school where we were serenaded by the local children (in three languages!) be conducted on a walking tour of the town, culminating in a visit to the seaside and a chance for some students and staff to put their feet in the Mediterranean! The group also spent one afternoon exploring the extensive pre-Roman Etruscan necropolis of La Banditaccia in the idyllic setting of the hills behind Cerveteri. The students were then treated to an orienteering contest amongst the atmospheric ruins that led to some very competitive performances amongst the multinational assortment of students – it was very pleasing to see our young people mixing well with their fellow students and, in a situation where English was very much the lingua franca of the six-nation group, nonetheless using some of their GCSE Spanish (and even, on occasion Italian!) to communicate with their peers.
No trip to the region would be complete without a visit to the eternal city itself – and Rome did not disappoint. On another day of extensive walking (the group covered nearly sixty miles on foot during the week, not to mention daily rail and sometimes coach travel), the group were fascinated by the sun-drenched ruins of the Colosseum and Palatine Hill, not to mention the Trevi Fountain, Temple of Hadrian and Parthenon, to name but a handful of the many things seen and visited in a city where each turn of the corner seems to reveal yet another marvel or beautiful piazza. And speaking of piazza’s near-namesake, we must have eaten our bodyweight in pizza, pasta, ice cream and sundry other Italian delights – all in the name of replenishing the calories we were all burning up in our action-packed itinerary!
Another team-building exercise for the students involved a coach trip to the vast Lake Bracciano (think a Mediterranean Windermere) and the students taking part in a dragon-boating expedition along the shore of the lake. We then, after a scenic lakeside lunch, visited the town of the same name and saw the impressive castle overlooking it.
The trip was not all play and no work, however, and two of the technological sessions involved respectively creating an animation using Quivervision and the students using the Arduino platform to create a functioning traffic light system – a great display of teamwork and coding prowess from our students!
All good things must come to an end and, after bidding farewell to our amazing hosts at Istituto di Comprensivo Marina di Cerveteri and our counterparts from all the other countries, there was just enough time for the Dallam group to visit Rome for a final day of sight-seeing and ticking off the places we hadn’t managed first time there before heading back to the UK with a treasure-trove of great memories and a renewed appreciation for the universal power of education to bring people together. The students were an absolute credit to themselves, their families and the school and group leader Ms Cook deserves a huge amount of recognition for organising the trip and leading the group so well, and boarding house parent Mrs Wilkinson was a fantastic travelling partner, too-good-humoured and supportive of the students every step of the way.
I’m going to leave the final word to two of the students on the trip:
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to travel somewhere new, meet different people, and experience historical landmarks, like the Colosseum and The Vatican. It was a pleasure to learn while having fun and enjoying the great weather and food! – Raphael Neimark, Year 9
I really enjoyed discovering new things about other people’s cultures as well as about the historic and present day Rome. I learned a lot about what Rome is like and how the schools work in Italy. My favourite thing about the entire trip was how I was able to meet new people and find a way to communicate despite the language barrier. Thanks!– Iona Finney, Year 10