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An ocean crossed; lives changed forever

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MHS students at the farmhouse in Monestevole include Lauren Shores, Meghan Shores, Mason Duke, Austen-Taylor Dozier, Cole Radabaugh, Ashton Carter, Simon Unsworth, Tyler Radabaugh, Ashby Taylor, Gabby Taylor, Jack Ruark, Jordan Blake and Chloe Hodges.

Thirteen Middlesex High School students left on July 5 for a Career Discovery tour to Italy. Tagging along were the school principal and assistant principal and four parents. Little did any of them know when they left Richmond International Airport that their lives would be forever woven together and they would have the experience of a lifetime.

MHS principal Jeannie Duke had been in communications with Education First (EF) since November about a Career Discovery pilot they were working on for students. “I’ve had the opportunity to travel out of the country several times and knew the value of learning about other cultures and knew this was an opportunity I wanted my students to be able to have,” said Duke. “We welcome numerous foreign exchange students to MHS every year and they enrich our school culture so much. I just kept thinking that our students needed the opportunity to travel the world and see what else awaits them!”

Rome was the first stop. Each day students would travel back in time and visit historical landmarks, and then come together in groups to discuss their future careers.

The group visited Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel where they were able to see the works of Michelangelo. They visited St. Peter’s Basilica, the Roman Colosseum, the Roman forums, made wishes in the Trevi Fountain, and went inside the beautiful Pantheon.

The group then boarded a bus to Monestevole, a 15th-century farmhouse surrounded by olive trees and located at the top of a mountain in the town of Umbria. There students learned what living in a sustainable community meant, and took on karmic duties while staying there—such as picking vegetables from the garden that would later be served for dinner, setting the table, canning tomatoes, making dish detergent, feeding the animals, gathering eggs, and making pasta from scratch.

An ocean crossed; lives changed forever. The 19 Middlesex County travelers will never forget their adventures in Italy. The amazingly-fresh food, the daily gelatos, the laughter, and the memories will forever bind them. How this trip changed them all remains to be seen, but they now know there is a big world out there waiting for them to explore.

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Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 07.29.2015

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