Due to COVID-19, the future of international school trips is uncertain.
BY JOURNALISM II STUDENT FIA GALLICCHIO, ‘22. BY JOURNALISM II STUDENT FIA GALLICCHIO, ‘22.
For some, traveling offers new, fresh experiences and opens up the opportunity of exploring different cultures.
This is usually the case for senior Deniz Erdal who has looked out at the ruins of Troy and Bergeron and been amazed by the city of Ephesus. His family takes yearly trips to Turkey, but the traveling for Erdal doesn’t stop there.
“I’ve been to basically four continents,” Erdal said. “I love traveling.”
Due to concerns related to COVID-19, many traveling plans for people around the world were canceled during the past year. Students and teachers alike look forward to the school Spanish trip that happens every other year. While some had their travel arrangements canceled because of COVID-19, last year was an off year for the program.
“Fortunately, we did not plan one last year because we went the year before that,” Spanish teacher Anthony Naska said. “We go every other year because it takes a good year and half to plan the trip.”
However, future trips will still be affected by COVID-19. While some school trips will be happening this summer, the UAHS Spanish students are not as fortunate.
“[The trip will not be happening this year] because we have no idea with the countries opening up,” Naska said.
There will not be a Spanish trip next year either.
“We’d have to start planning it right now, and there are just too many unknowns and variables … so it’s probably not for at least two years,” Naska said.
In previous years, the Spanish trip provides students the opportunity to get immersed in a Spanish-speaking culture.
“You try to actually get students engaged with the local culture. The times I’ve taken students abroad, they’re also in
classes, so they learn from someone—a Spanish teacher—and then they actually get to go out to the community,” said Naska, who frequently chaperones the Spanish trip. Naska serves as an example of why learning about other cultures is important.
“I think what got my passion started for language was when I was able to actually communicate with the people in Spanish,” he said.
Aside from students, some staff members such as history teacher Adele Vergis also enjoy the cultural and historical aspects of traveling.
“It’s fascinating to be able to see all these places that are also in ancient books and classical literature,” she said.
She also mentioned experiences that aren’t necessarily possible without traveling.
“I was driving down the Pacific coast, and I saw a crowd of people just standing by the ocean. So, we pulled over our car, and there was a mother whale and her baby whale, and this mother comes back every year with whatever children she has,” Vergis said. “It was one of the coolest things I saw.”
The past year, due to COVID-19, some students and staff were unable to travel. However, some people have still traveled within the US.
“I went to see Indiana to see family,” Vergis said. “But I haven’t left Ohio really this year.”
Similarly, Erdal has spent time traveling within the US.
“I’ve been on college tours, so I’ve basically been up and down the east coast. I’ve been to Florida a couple of times,” Erdal said. While his travel plans were affected by the coronavirus, Erdal’s family was able to travel after taking necessary precautions
“I was initially worried about COVID-19, but I feel like my family took necessary precautions,” Erdal said. “We traveled by car instead of flying to sort of alleviate some of the risk of catching COVID-19, but … we were vaccinated pretty early on, so I felt more comfortable after that.”
However, Erdal is eager to travel internationally again.
“I love aviation, and I love flying, and it’s kind of been sad not being able to experience that for a long time. I’m excited to be able to travel again,” Erdal said. Similarly, Vergis plans to travel soon as well.
“I have a trip booked to go to Italy this summer,” she said.
While the Spanish trip won’t be happening anytime soon, students and staff look forward to traveling over summer break.