Travel resumes! What are they up to?

Italy Trip - 2019

Italy Trip – 2019

Mikaella Murph, Guest Writer

The Value of Traveling

As travel at Athens Academy resumes for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school plans to take a trip to Italy and South Africa. In previous years, Athens Academy students have gone to Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, Quebec, Italy, and Costa Rica. Russ Hovater, international studies program chair, emphasizes the importance of traveling abroad and how it can benefit students. 


“When you’re traveling you’re discovering new things, new worlds, new cultures, new music, food, you name it. But, by getting out of your element, by getting out of what is comfortable for you it caused me, and I think it causes others, to become introspective. And in some ways by leaving your comfort zone you’re challenged and it’s through being challenged that you grow,” says Hovater.


Mr. Hovater explains that through traveling, experiencing new cultures, and getting out of his element he was able to grow as a person. He goes on to describe his experience from traveling to London when he was a senior in college, and how it helped him discover who he is today.


Instead of London, students will be traveling to Liceo Corso, Athens Academy’s sister school. They will leave on March 1st and return on the evening of March 11th. While visiting Italy, they will see: Liceo Corso, Parma, Florence, Venice, and several museums. They will be required to keep a travel journal as the trip is an “educational tour, not a European vacation” as stated by the itinerary document. Students and their parents are attending meetings in order to prepare for the cultural exchange. 


Maddie Connor, a Sophomore at Athens Academy, is curious to learn about how school works in Italy compared to the United States. “I know in Italy, school works a little bit differently so I’m just excited to see the differences in culture and especially the school,” says Connor.


Along with Italy, students are going to South Africa in the summer. They will leave on June 2 and return on June 15th. Throughout the trip, students will learn about the apartheid movement as they tour Johannesburg, Gold Reef City, Soweto, and several museums. They will interact with refugee students, learn about the cultures of the local tribes at Lesedi Village, go on safaris, and much more. 


Sophomore vice president, Luke De La Fuente, hopes to learn more about South Africa’s wildlife, vegetation, background, and way of life. “I hope to learn mainly about like the ecosystem and animals that live there, but also about the culture and history of the country itself,” says De La Fuente.


With so many interesting and potential places to travel to, how are the countries selected? Mr. Hovater sheds some light on this question, “For Italy and Germany, it’s because we have established sister-school relationships and a Home-stay exchange program that preceded me.”


He explains that some of the international travel is linked to Athens Academy’s sister schools like Gütersloh in Germany and Liceo Corso in Italy. He goes on to explain that some trips are asked for by faculty members, and others like Japan and South Africa are just new and exciting because of the change in culture.


“Japan, South Africa, places like that are just exotic and enticing and so… different from I guess the U.S. and other typical… travel,” says Hovater. “They also provide a really exciting opportunity for the adventurous.”


With Italy during spring break and South Africa in the summer, students are gearing up for the exciting adventures that await them overseas.


“I can for sure say that travel has changed my life,” says Hovater.



Japan 2019                                               United Kingdom 2019