Ashland Students Experience Italy During Spring Break
When Dr. David Aune, associate professor of religion for Ashland University, developed the course, “The Legacy of Paul and Peter in Italy” to include a study abroad component in Italy during Spring Break, he had no idea how popular it would be.
A total of 28 Ashland University students participated in a 10-day study tour during early March led by Aune and Adam Sparks of “Footstep Ministries.” The tour featured two full days in Florence, one day in Assisi, and four days in and around Rome.
Although the Duomo church, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Academia museum – where Michelangelo’s David is located - were certainly memorable and spectacular, having front row seats for an outdoor Papal audience on a beautiful Wednesday morning was the highlight of the visit for most of the students, according to Aune.
“It was amazing to see groups from all over the world and really impressive to hear the Pope greet them in seven different languages,” said Aune of the Pope’s ability to speak Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish. “He had such a kind and gentle way of being.”
Other highlights of the trip included a visit to the churches of St. Clare and St. Francis in Assisi, along with other important religious sites throughout Rome, such as St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museum and the church of St. John Lateran.
One entire day was devoted to classical Rome, featuring a tour of the Coliseum, the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum, as well as the famous Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon.
“I absolutely loved climbing the Duomo,” said junior Lindsay Arron, an English major from Mansfield. “The view was beautiful, and the climb up to the top was somewhat of a challenge, but it was so worth it…I was more than exhausted, but I was glad to have gotten that (time) with people I knew and trusted. It’s amazing what being out of the country will do to people.”
On their free day, most of the group participated in a tour of an archaeological site at Ostia Antica, though some even made it to a small beach on the Italian coastline.
The final day included a visit to the Catacombs, as well as closing reflections from the book of Romans outside the Basilica of St. Paul, the site of Paul’s final resting place.
Students appreciated the balance between studying, touring and having free time to explore the wonders of Italy.
“This trip allowed for me to clear my crazy schedule and life so I could really focus on me and the changes going on in my life,” said senior Candyce Smith, . “I was able to gain a closer relationship with God and make new friendships through this religious experience that I feel will last a lifetime.”
Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2012, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.