Fairfield students make most of April break, travel Europe
FAIRFIELD — In Italy and Spain, the McDonald’s restaurants are cleaner and nicer than they are in Fairfield County.
Their ordering technology is more advanced — orders can be placed at some locations using an automated kiosk. Then the food — which is of better quality than in the United States — is brought directly to the table.
Such was the collective review from two groups of Fairfield Warde High School students who recently returned from weeklong trips over April break to Italy and Spain, respectively.
“The McDonald’s was fantastic,” junior Ethan Nischan, 17, said on Tuesday, a few days after returning to the U.S.
Nischan was one of 30 Warde art, Latin and Italian students to complete a tour of Italy — from Sorrento, down the Amalfi Coast, to Pompeii and ultimately to Rome — that blended the three disciplines.
“I designed this trip not only around the three curricular areas (Latin, Italian and art) but also to give students a wide-lens view of history through art — ancient to modern,” said Warde Latin teacher Amy Scatenato, who organized the third annual trip.
Scatenato was joined by art teacher Julianne Warfield, Latin teacher Julia Fedoryk and Italian teacher Sabrina Klein, who chaperoned the 19 Latin students and 11 art and Italian students on trips to landmarks like Vatican City, the Colosseum, the Capitoline Museum and the Roman Forum.
“It was a nightmare to take the subway,” Klein said, due to the number of students, which doubled from the previous year.
Though the Italian group was the largest, it was not the only one traveling to Europe over April break. A second troop of 10 students — six from Warde and four from Fairfield Ludlowe High School — spent their break staying with host families in Talavera de la Reina, a city in central Spain just a little larger than Fairfield, and seeing sights in Madrid.
“They’re really experiencing the culture firsthand,” said Eileen Frankel, district world language coordinator for third through 12th grades and organizer of the trip to Spain for the past eight years. “When you get to stay at a family’s home, you get to see what the lifestyle is really like.”
For five nights, the students live with a host family with a child of similar age. The Fairfield teens followed their hosts to school for two days, and on the weekends explored the city.
“I got to hang out with the girl O was staying with,” said senior Emily Healy, 17. “Friday and Saturday night I got to hang out with her friends. It was very much like a Saturday night with my own friends, other than that we stayed out hours later.”
Healy and fellow Warde senior Shimul Banik, 17, were surprised at how centralized and walkable the city was. They also noted several difference between Spanish and American schools. Cellphones, for example, are not tolerated in Spain, even between classes, and teachers mostly lecture during lessons.
“There entire teaching method is different,” Healy said.
After Talavera, the students took a day trip in Segovia and then rounded the trip out in Madrid, which Healy and Banik said they enjoyed, but not as much as living with the host families.
Frankel and Warde Spanish teacher Andrea Hagenbach guessed the trip to Spain — which before this year included only Ludlowe students — attracted fewer participants because many parents and students are apprehensive about the host family component.
“They liked living with the families. I think they were a little hesitant at first, but that ended up being their favorite part,” Hagenbach said.
On Friday, 12 Spanish students from Talavera will arrive in Fairfield for a week and stay with the students they recently hosted, and then travel to New York City and Washington, D.C.
Healy and Banik said they have been making plans with their newly made friends, who want to see the beach (Talavera is landlocked) and downtown Fairfield.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience seeing how their teenage lives are compared to ours,” Banik said.
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