As April break rapidly approaches, an eagerness is growing in those who are members of the NHS Latin Club. On April 10, 2019, the Latin Club will depart from Boston, Massachusetts for its spring vacation trip destined for Italy, returning to Nantucket on April 19th. From the very first day this school year commenced, the club quickly undertook the task of brainstorming ways to fundraise for their trip to Europe. Since then, the Latin Club has been working tremendously hard to ensure that they would be well on their way to achieving their established goals.
All individuals of the club have made an outstanding effort to finalize their preparations for their exciting travel to Europe, with each member giving their all and helping as much as they were able to. When planning and fundraising for a trip as vast as this one, drawbacks, and obstacles along the way may arise. Latin Club president Alecsander Vollans confirmed this, admitting, “Latin Club has had problems with inexperience and getting traction. The inexperience was solved by bringing in those who have had more experience (pretty much just parents)…The best way to get better at something is to practice it. The issue with getting traction has been being resolved as the trip approaches and as the parents of Latin club have come in and have mentored us.”
The club’s coordinator is Latin teacher Christopher Cothran. Mr. Cothran has a rather impressive resume under his belt. With a masters degree in the Latin Language and Literature from the University of Massachusetts Boston, Cothran is more than equipped to lead the Latin Club to Rome, the central city of the ancient Roman Empire and capital of Italy.
When asked in what ways this trip will enhance the Latin skills of those in a Latin class, Cothran replied, “this trip is designed as an intensive course. I have many readings in Latin that we will examine at the various sites that we will visit. What makes this trip special is that we will be experiencing this literature in the very place that it was written. We will be reading the words of Marcus Cicero, of Julius Caesar, of Pliny the Younger on the very stones on which they stood. This gives a whole new meaning to the literature – a whole new appreciation of it. Instead of experiencing it in the context of a classroom, we will experience it where it was meant to be experienced. Students will come away with a new outlook on Latin. I am also trying to get one of my friends, Roberto Carfagni, who is my friend and, in my opinion, the world’s best Latinist, to visit with us on a few sites. If he can swing it, students will have the chance to learn from a living legend.”
Cothran further added that he wished for “..students to learn something about themselves. Of course, I want them to experience Latin in the context of Ancient Rome. As I said before, it is quite a thing to stand inside the Circus Maximus and read a letter of Pliny’s about a Chariot Race…But what is more important is that the students learn how to immerse themselves and experience another culture and become good, respectful travelers. If they do this, they will become better humans.”
Cothran is remarkably passionate regarding the contents of the Italy trip as a result of his ardor and love for the Latin language. He has planned “readings, scavenger hunts, and many other activities at different archaeological sites” for the students attending the trip to see, but the list does not end there. Over their nine-day stay, the visitors will be touring museums and ancient city ruins like Pompeii and Herculaneum and stroll through the Ancient Roman Forum and, arguably, the largest tourist attraction in all of Italy, the Colosseum. Mr. Cothran explained that the students will visit “Renaissance-era churches as well, including St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.” In addition, the club will be “…spending half of that time in and around the Bay of Naples in southern Italy and the other half… in Rome.”
Both Vollans and Holdgate had similar responses when asked what they were looking forward to about the trip. Holdgate expressed he is “mostly looking forward to experiencing European culture…Local foods, sights, people, attractions, goods…”
Exposure to new cultures undoubtedly has its advantages. Individuals introduced to a culture that is not their own can benefit from an enhanced understanding of the world around them, and better their communication and interaction skills. The Latin Club was presented with an amazing opportunity to experience a culture and language that paved the way for numerous others.
By Dianny Martinez-Ulloa