From the Eternal City to the Birthplace of Modern Civilization
It was exactly one week ago today that we explored the Catacombs of Domitilla on the outskirts of Rome. Later that day our students were escorted to the Vatican where we all gazed up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel marvelling at Michelangelo’s masterpieces and works by other Italian Renaissance artists. After a quick visit to St. Peter’s Basilica, we completed our tour of Vatican City at St. Peter’s Square.
A morning visit on Wednesday by our English students to the International School of Rome brought all our students together to share their learning and understanding of English literature.
Thursday’s flight from Rome, with its short layover in Athens, took us from the eternal city to the birthplace of modern civilization, Crete. Our stay here in Heraklion, the capital, has brought us back to balmy weather, palm trees, evening breezes and beaches.
On Friday, students were bussed to the Heraklion Archeological Museum where they visited some 17 rooms filled with Minoan artifacts and were introduced to the Cretan history, spanning 5500 years. Later, a walking tour of Heraklion helped everyone get their bearings making a stroll around town after dinner easy and enjoyable. Just the same, I am always impressed with how confidently your child navigates the streets with a seemingly innate sense of direction. This city is lively and buzzing with outdoor cafes, shops, music and plenty of foot traffic. It has been a delight to explore.
Finally, an optional excursion to the Palace of Knossos on Saturday brought the history of the Minoan culture alive with excavated ruins and artifacts dating back to 3000 B.C. Students discovered the mysteries behind Europe’s oldest known civilization and how it had developed into a sophisticated society with its own written language, arts, high culture and advanced infrastructure.
Sunday’s day-long excursion to Santorini may very well have been the highlight of the week for many students. Arriving in the picturesque town of Oia was like taking a step into a scenic postcard boasting spectacular views of the deep blue Mediterranean. In small groups we strolled through shop-filled lanes, up and down narrow white stair cases, past white washed houses and blue domes and pink cascading bougainvillea. Students popped into quaint tavernas overlooking magnificent views of the sea to snap photos and, of course, sample some of the local cuisine.
A drive to the summit in Santorini, where the Greek monastery is perched, gave everyone a fabulous bird’s eye view of the entire island, its coastline and the many Cycladic islands in the vicinity. We saw the caldera rising from the water and learned about the catastrophic volcanic eruption that occurred around 1600 B.C. It is believed to have devastated many islands, including Crete’s Minoan civilization, by sending consecutive tsunamis and earthquakes.
Our day at Santorini ended on the black beach, so-called because of the volcanic black sand. Swimming in the warm waters followed by a rest on beach beds with thatched roofs made this part of the excursion feel almost resort-like.
Since our arrival in Crete, the Mediterranean diet has become a favourite among many of our students who look forward to Greek salads and Cretan cuisine. Overall, the cultural vibe here is warm and inviting and the affordable shopping has seen at least a few students stuffing more items into an already bulging suitcase. Don’t be surprised if you see your child sporting new clothes, or a new haircut upon returning home!
As Blyth Academy Global High School enters the final stage of Term One, teachers and students are working closely to ensure the completion and submission of final assignments and ISPs. Exam reviews will commence soon. I know that teachers have been sharing their curriculum coverage with you and keeping you posted on student performance. Feel free to contact any one of us at any time as we are always here.
It is so inspiring for me to see how the academic lessons, interspersed with hands-on experiential learning in our many settings have combined to make this a rich learning opportunity for all. Discovering how to balance the fast-paced academic workload with free time and friends while participating in excursions, travel and tours has become a life lesson in itself. When the time comes, I sense your teenager will be much better prepared to manage the various demands of college and university life. Until Athens…
Head of School