Lauren Dill and Jeanie Luongo traveled with eighteen students to Italy this summer for seventeen days of exploring sites near Vesuvius and in the city of Rome, with a final two days in Tuscany. During the trip, we witnessed incredible growth in our students both intellectually and personally.
Receiving the CAMWS Travel Grant allowed us to add enriching experiences that enabled students to better visualize the ancient Roman world, such as our special tour at Ostia Antica. As one of our students wrote, “How better for us to rediscover a still partially intact town than with the TV star and archaeologist Darius Arya. He took us through some main attractions like the theater, shopping area, and bakery, but also showed us some hidden gems like an apartment building, a private home with plumbing, and a beautiful mosaic! Our trip through history showed us what a typical Roman town would’ve looked like, what they would’ve done on a typical day, and how much walking they did in one day!”
We were also able to see the Forum of Caesar and Augustus light shows and visit Nero’s Domus Aurea, which brought ancient Rome to life with projections and virtual reality. Our students are still talking about what they learned from both. One student wrote about the Forum of Caesar show, “It’s really cool to see where the Romans walked and lived but sometimes hard to imagine. That’s why the light show was so cool! Not only were we in Caesar’s forum, but we also got to see the forum how it was meant to be seen. We walked through the tunnels underneath…. We learned about how many times the neighborhood was destroyed to build, dig, or renovate. We walked into the forum from behind the Temple of Venus…. We kept walking past the fountain to learn about the shops. They were used by bankers to keep wills, weigh money, and more. We got to see what these shops looked like through the lights on the walls. Before the bankers, these alcoves were schools. We read their graffiti about the Aeneid and saw how kids loved and hated teachers. We also looked at the bathrooms, more columns, the Curia, and more. The lights really illuminated how much we know about Rome and how much there is to learn.”
Using the virtual reality headsets in the Domus Aurea, we saw students connecting what we see today in Rome with what was there during the first century A.D. “The Domus Aurea [was] one of my favorite parts of the trip.... It not only gives you a sense of just how much people and resources the Romans had at their disposal to build a building like that but also how easily said building could… be buried underneath something else,” wrote one student.
We are so grateful for this additional funding from CAMWS for our trip to Italy. Being able to have these experiences at archaeological sites aided our students’ understanding of the ancient world and helped them to see connections between ancient and modern cities.