Thirty Dublin City Schools students will have plenty of tales of summer vacation to tell when they return to classes Aug. 20.
Through the district's new Global Education program, 30 students ages 13 to 16 visited Italy and Greece this summer.
The goal of the trip is to build on seventh-grade social studies, with a focus on world history. Because the program is new, the district opened it to students who had taken that class in the last few years.
The 11-day trip, organized by EF Tours, took students to destinations such as Athens, Florence, Pompeii, Rome and Vatican City.
Seventh-grade teacher Jim Hull, who helped plan and lead the tour, said students learned about ancient Greece, the Roman empire, medieval times and the Renaissance.
Visiting locales such as the theater at Epidaurus and Corinth helped cement lessons learned in the classroom, he said.
"They learned that Corinth was an important city-state and trade route at land and sea," Hull said, noting that seeing the area helped students understand its historical significance.
"It was also the last city-state to be conquered by the Romans. It's interesting (in the classroom), but when you go to the geography and climb the mountain, you see how high it is and how difficult it is to climb and bring an army. You can see why Romans or anybody would have a difficult time conquering it."
From Athens, students went to Italy and stopped at Pompeii to get a look at Roman city life.
In Rome, students toured ancient sites including the Colosseum, Pantheon and Roman Forum.
A trip to the Vatican helped segue to the Renaissance, followed by a trip to the leaning Tower of Pisa and Florence, where the Renaissance began.
"Something like that really makes it come alive," Hull said of the travels.
Students had an opportunity to earn class credit by completing an online project.
"The project is run with the tour company, which is an educational company," Hull said. "There's a variety of writing and reflection activities with a little extra research for places they had been. It's a nice way to wrap up the experience."
But lessons from the experience extended beyond world history.
"First on the list would be food," Hull said. "All the food was arranged, from breakfast to dinner. It was all authentic and we got to learn how other people eat and how much olive oil there is. It took kids a few days, but then we saw people finishing other people's leftovers and have a fun time with it, too."
Students also got to experience Italian culture, from a love of soccer to getting around the big cities.
"It's a big jam of motorcycles and cars doing their own thing," Hull said. "Kids were fascinated by that. There are so many things about being in a foreign country like that."
Students took their own impressions away from the trip.
"We saw so many places that kick-started the world we live in now," Jerome High School sophomore Brendan Grace said. "I plan to go back to become a more advanced traveler and understand more about the history."
"My favorite part was going to the Colosseum," Jerome sophomore Joe Dunnan said. "It was an amazing site."
The next trip to Italy and Greece is planned for 2016.
A complement to the 2014 trip will be offered in 2015. Participants will learn about classical history with an itinerary including the ancient city of Troy, Ephesus, Pergamum, the Greek Islands and Athens.
For more information on Dublin City Schools' Global Travel program, look online at dublinschools.net/educationaltravel.aspx.