I have a feeling that when we return home and you ask your child, “How was your adventure?” or “What did you see?” the answer is going to be something like, “The trip was great. We saw some really cool old stuff” and then the conversation will launch into the silly things, the funny moments connected to their friends on the trip, and the minutia that is more a side note than a main theme.
In a few days some things will start to bubble up to the surface and you will catch snippets of the experience. “We swam in three different seas,” “We sat in the theater where Plato sat,” “We went up 10,000 feet and hiked in and out of craters on Mt. Etna.” The pictures will help remind them where they were and what they saw. Their journals will offer another vehicle for memory and perspective. But, largely, it will be a jumble of places, food, monuments, ideas, facts, feelings, and people.
They have been swimming in a sea of history, art, architecture, philosophy, mythology, literature, science, and Sicilian/Italian culture. They have had full days of activities and arrived tired at the hotel only to shower and rest for a few moments, then dress for dinner at 8pm. I wish you could have seen them at dinner! Not only were they trying new things, finding new tastes, discovering new flavors, but they sat and talked and enjoyed life and conversation and each other for two or three hours, which is the Italian/Sicilian way. Despite the fact that sometimes their volume reached middle school refectory levels, we received compliments on their behavior from people of all different nationalities. Time after time, someone would approach our table, ask what we were doing in Sicily, pepper us with questions about our school, our program, our students and walk away impressed with and envious of them.
In fact, I am envious of them. They have made an Odyssey, an epic journey that will color all their experiences in the years to come. And, like Homer’s epic, it will take a lifetime to understand it and appreciate not only what it was, but also how it has changed them.
So be patient with them and their cursory retorts. Just ask them about the small things and you might start to see some of the big things.