Florence Italy Art travel scholarship high school

Fra Angelico: Annunciation(c. 1440–45), fresco, north corridor, monastery of S Marco, Florence; photo credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY

Note: To help our scholars familiarize themselves with their host country, we asked each to watch a different 25-30 minute youtube video about a particular region of Italy. Each video stars Rick Steves, a foremost expert on European travel. After they watched their assigned videos, Scholars were asked to provide a summary of its contents and highlight a topic it covers that especially interests them – this could be anything from a moment in history to a place or a person. In addition to explaining their personal interest in the topic. 

Italy has always had a unique relationship with modernity and religion. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the power of the pope increased considerably. Although Italy’s political structure changed drastically, the influence of the Catholic church stayed prominent throughout Italy. From the Florence Cathedral to the Vatican City, the presence of religion on the Italian peninsula is indisputable, and yet Italy also played a large role in the Renaissance. We have all heard of Donatello and Di Vinci, Italian natives whose artwork helped shape the Renaissance.

Located about 273 km (around 168 miles for my fellow Americans) from Rome, Florence is called the “home of the Renaissance, birthplace of the modern western world” by Rick Steves . The Florence Cathedral features the famous Dome, a common architectural feature of the Renaissance. That Dome was, in fact, the first great dome to be built in a thousand years, and the first dome of the Renaissance. The city’s location allowed it to flourish financially, as it was the center of trade between the East and the West. Money was invested in creative genius, so numerous talented artists made their way to Florence during the 13th and 14th century.

The Renaissance is often viewed as a time period in which religion took a back seat, and all of Europe became focused on celebrating the achievements of humans rather than praising God. Too some extent, I agree. Advancements in science were encouraged, and the Church could no longer put a limit on learning. But I think an important distinction must be made: a decrease in the influence of the Church doe not necessarily mean a decrease in the influence of religion. There was a definite shift in the mindset of individuals about how to worship God. Whereas following the word of the Pope and spending hours in prayer were the accepted ways of showing your commitment to religion during the Medieval ages, it became common to use art as a form of expressing religious devotion during the Renaissance. Painters used realism to draw scenes from the life of Jesus. Sculptures embraced the idea of creating nude sculptors to celebrate how perfectly God had designed the human body. Artists wanted to showcase the wonders of being human by adopting a more realistic form of art, but much of their artwork was inspired by stories from the Bible. For example, in one of Michelangelo’s masterpieces, David, the nude David’s considerably large right hand symbolizes the hand of God. Donatello also created a sculpture of Mary Madeline, highlighting her deteriorating body through her hollow eyes, but also her strong spirt as she stands straight and tall.

I think it’s strange that I identify with this city. Its history of balancing religion with modern ideas parallels my own efforts to stay devoted to Islam while embracing progressive ideas. All of this just makes me even more excited to visit Florence, cross the Ponte Vecchio bridge, admire the doorway of the Baptistery, and of course devour the food. read more →

venice italy travel scholarship high school international

Venice in twilight

 

Note: To help our scholars familiarize themselves with their host country, we asked each to watch a different 25-30 minute youtube video about a particular region of Italy. Each video stars Rick Steves, a foremost expert on European travel. After they watched their assigned videos, Scholars were asked to provide a summary of its contents and highlight a topic it covers that especially interests them – this could be anything from a moment in history to a place or a person. In addition to explaining their personal interest in the topic. 

As a curious child, I am honored to invest time in researching about my future travels. My assigned city is a well preserved masterpiece known as Venice.

Although its history is doused in blood, the end result was a safe haven for the general public. One of the many locations on the lagoon is the sight of the great beginning of Venice, Torcello. Torcello is now a depopulated location that is surrounded by forest land and the oldest church. After the fall of Rome, the barbarians began to burn down and rampage villages, causing the people to abandon their own towns/villages. They moved out to the lagoon, deforesting part of Italy along the way, to build their new homes. They used the raw materials to create a level in which to build upon; the mud and raw materials would make a great asset to the stability of Venice. As they developed on the outskirts, they became a village/town of fisherman, and not of farmers. Venice became a trading empire with economic and military power. They were the first mass produced military Arsenal, that could build an entire warship in 24 hours.
In Venice, many of the local tourists stay between the Rialto Bridge and St. Marks. St. Marks is known to be the political and religious center. Most travel on the island is on the many boats located in the waters. These are know as vaporettos; vaporettos are similar to trains, they have numbers and stops. Other forms of travel would be the gondolas, traghettos, and vaporettos. (The gondolas are $100 for 45 minutes; travel expert Rick Steves recommends splitting the cost between six people as it is one of the most beautiful forms of travel.) The traghettos are “gondola like”, but they travel through the grand canal. The vaporettos are city bus boats that go beyond and reach the internal heart of the lagoon cities. Torcello is actually one of the cities that a vaporettos can travel to, others include Murano, the city of glass, and Burano, a pastel wonderland(lace). St. Marks Square, also known as the main square, faces the Basilica San Marco and Campanile. These locations both hold true treasure, and are relics of the ancient past. The Basilica is a political and economic staple, while the Campanile a magical “orchestra”. Simply put by Rick, “People complain about the $25 cost of a beer, but it’s not $25 for the beer, it’s $25 for a table at the most expensive piece of real estate in Europe, listening to the live orchestra, surrounded by the wonders of Venice, and it comes with a drink. Come on, don’t complain.”

The Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs are also some of the most memorable places to visit. The story says that prisoners were taken through the Doge’s Place and the Bridge of Sighs, prisoners would sigh at the beautiful sight of their Venice as it was their last remembrance. As a town of 70,000 people that entertains more than a million people each day, we hear about and see many entertaining sites. So, because Venice is a wealthy city, we as travelers, are able to explore more of what it truely means to be a Venetian. The wealth started with the Renaissances movement through Europe, it began in Florence, traveled to Rome through their pope, then in 1520 after Raphael death, it established itself in Venice. This was due to the wealthy merchants, and their thirst for art-signifying wealth. This art came to be know as “situ art”; most of art is located in the Church of the Frari. The contain “masterpieces by Giorgiore and Titian”, as well as classics of the Venetian Renaissance. This is amazing because all these great art pieces are meant to be there/ intended to be on the walls of that estate. There are places like galleries that showcase many art pieces like the Uffizi, the Vatican, but in Venice it’s known as the Accademia.

All in all, my research has lead me to a ton of amazing facts. As a Wandering Scholar it’s easy to get lost and like Rick Steves said, “it’s okay”. The great thing about traveling to/touring Venice is that at every restaurant or business, they have cards that tell you your location. This excites me, because I know as wandering scholars, we’ll all have some sort of aid along our way. read more →

High School Travel Scholarship Global Exchange Student Opportunity

Watch out, it’s cold and flu season and I heard that wanderlust is pretty contagious. The summer after my junior year of high school (Summer 2015) I was blessed to with the opportunity to travel to Guatemala. Upon returning home, I was diagnosed with a severe case of wanderlust. Some would argue that I caught wanderlust before apply to be a Wandering Scholar. Some of the main symptoms of wanderlust include: an urge to expand culture horizons, a will to step beyond comfort zones, and a desire to gain a global perspective of the world.

Growing up in a single-parent household my family didn’t have extra money to take leisurely spring, summer, and winter vacations. As a result, I grew up only knowing Wisconsin and its’ adjacent states. Being a Wandering Scholar has opened my mind to new opportunities, become intercultural aware, and increased my global perspective.

I am now a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying Food Science with a certificate in Environmental and Community Sociology.  This past Winter Break, I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Israel.  My trip to Israel was a gift from UW-Hillel and Shorashim Israel. I went to Israel because I wanted to explore and learn more about my cultural and religious identity. The pre-departure planning was similar to The Wandering Scholar. Leading up to the trip I actively engaged in cultural, language, and “current news” immersion.  I immersed myself with Israeli Culture and News, attended weekly Shabbat Dinners and services, and attended an introductory Hebrew language course. None of this was mandatory, I made the personal choice to participate in these pre-trip activities because I knew it would  make my trip more engaging and meaningful to me.

I am thankful that the Wandering Scholar helped me gain pre-departure planning, autonomy, intercultural-communication skills, and global exposure. I’ve said this before, but being a Wandering Scholar doesn’t end at the designated “10-week” mark. Everyday, I carry the skills and values that I learned from my adventure a Wandering  Scholar with me. I’ve  learned how to take responsibility for my own learning by setting goals and work towards them. In addition, I learned to be globally aware through appreciating and understanding cultural differences.

My trip to Israel was fantastic! It was a great end to 2016 and a wonderful start to 2017. Isreali culture is vibrant and fascinating, however I was surprised by the long plane ride. It is a fourteen-hour plane ride from Newark, New Jersey to Tel Aviv, Israel. After calculating domestic plane flights and anticipated delays it takes about 20-24 hours to travel to Israel. No matter how much pre-trip planning, it is very difficult to avoid jetlag.

My number one travel tip to first time travelers is to bring battery packs a (for phones, tablets, and e-readers) and a universal wall adaptor. There is nothing worse than being on a domestic/international flight that doesn’t have outlets under the seats. Or even worst hoovering over the designated “charging stations” at the airport. To solve this problem, just invest in a battery pack that can charge a device multiple times. Lastly, I recommend extra SD cards for cameras/phones-nobody wants to run out of storage.

At the end of the day, my number one advice to a new traveler is to step out of your comfort zone, try new things, try new things, be safe, and have fun!  Also, don’t forget to pack Vitamin C because a wanderlust is contagious. Once you get it, you’ll want to fill all the pages of your passport!

Until Next Time,
Alexis Terry read more →

I gained something I never thought I could from visiting another country: perspective. I had no expectations going into this trip which I highly recommend for future travelers. Going into this trip without expectations lead to the possibility to be surprised and delighted by everything I had done. I was surprised that someone as myself who usually lives a life of complexity could live simply. I did not think I could be completely independent yet from my family or be staying in places where it is normal for people to eat dinner together and leave doors open all the time for neighbors to wander in and out. I did not think I could be in so many situations where bugs are all around and not be bothered by it or be completely dirty or sweaty and accept it is natural. I did not think I could be without makeup and not be constantly in a “fashion show” as my mother says. I did expect to make so many friends but I did not know they would impact my life and be missed so much afterwards. All these thoughts I had were not expectations I had in my mind to defeat before this trip but things I had discovered along the way as the time I spent here progressed and I noticed myself changing.

This travel has inspired me to want to travel more and continue to be surprised by other cultures. I loved working on our service project that we had accomplished but when I go to other places this will not be why I go. I have realized from being around so many others who live such a different lifestyle from those of someone from the states, that when I travel I want to befriend others so instead of trying to be an American that comes in entitled trying to help since I would feel as though they are inferior. I do not want to be a savior since most others don’t want to lose the feeling of independence to rely on a stranger that comes from one of the most developed nations. I want to meet others and learn from their culture and give respect as a visitor.

I have never been one to say no to new experiences and that quality will always stay with me. I hope to always build new bridges for myself and continue to discover new opportunities. To enjoy what comes on the other side of a metaphorical bridge, you must completely immerse yourself in an experience. Take yourself out of your routines and habits and create new memories. This memory of Costa Rica will stay with me forever as well as the perspective I have gained from my visit. read more →

It has been a little over a month upon returning from Costa Rica and I still think about my trip every day. I didn’t expect to get so close to the people I travelled with and attached to the country itself. It was my first time going abroad and I wasn’t with anyone familiar, so I thought I would end up isolating myself and going into my comfort zone. However, I surprised myself many times- from little things such as actually trying new foods (I’m an extremely picky eater), to voluntarily embarking on lengthy nature walks. I feel the biggest lesson I took away from this trip was learning how to take chances because more times than not they can benefit you. In regards to Building Bridges, Not Walls I completely agree with the central theme of the article. I think over the last few years it has become less important to actually immerse yourself into something that interests you. If you give it a few moments of fleeting attention and maybe a retweet, that’s good enough. With the direction our society is going in this is not going to cut it anymore. In my everyday life, I feel that I am more willing to take risks and be more expressive about my passions due to being inspired on my trip. I would love nothing more than to have the chance to return to Costa Rica someday. read more →