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Sara Parker is still reflecting on a recent trip abroad that may prove to be her best learning experience yet.
Parker, a Lancaster native who attends the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, spent eight days in Italy during her spring break in March.
She and about 50 other music students in the school went there to perform in Rome, the Italian capital.
The Governor’s School, which takes in 11th- and 12th-graders throughout the state, sponsors a trip once every two years overseas. That ensures every student will be able to get the international experience at least once during their time at the school.
Parker, who’s about to begin the 12th grade, said she jumped at the opportunity to travel to Italy – so much that she asked her mother, Amy Jones, to go with her and serve as a chaperone.
“I really wanted to go,” Parker said.
The group flew out from Atlanta and 10 hours later landed in Milan, Italy.
They immediately went to Mantua and then Cremona before heading to Florence, which is often called the “Cradle of the Renaissance.”
Parker and the other students toured a good bit and were able to take it a lot of the Italian culture.
The students visited the Uffizi Gallery, home to world-renowned art, including pieces by Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Raphael.
Parker, 17, was in awe of all the original art, not just in the museums and galleries, but in virtually every building her group visited.
Instead of simple paints on walls, most establishments in Italy have walls that feature delicate, detailed hand paintings, she said.
Parker also found the Italian cuisine interesting. Although many restaurants in Italy serve five-course dinners, Parker said Italians appear to be health-conscious.
“They’re so healthy, and so fashionable,” Parker said. “It was neat to see the cultural differences.”
After visiting Florence, the group headed to Rome. Sites they visited included the Circus Maximus, the Baths of Caracalla, the Pantheon and the Coliseum.
The students went to Vatican City, where they saw the Sistine Chapel. They then visited St. Peter’s Basilica.
Parker said she has a lot more respect for Italians because she feels they are much more cultured that most Americans.
“It’s so historical,” Parker said about Italy. “It’s amazing to see all that stuff. I’m very grateful that I got to go.”
Jones, who’s been to Europe before, said traveling abroad never gets old. There’s always something new to see, she said.
“It was an experience – to see places first hand that you see on TV and hear about,” she said.
Jones said she’s glad her daughter got the chance to go overseas. She believes the experience will help her as she moves through 12th grade and beyond.
“It broadens your scope as far as how you perceive things or respond to things,” Jones said. “These opportunities will only help her grow.”
Contact reporter Jesef Williams at email@example.com or at (803) 283-1152