The inspirational wonders of traveling are like no other, especially when someone discovers the world with unique individuals through extraordinarily memorable experiences. This has been the primary lesson I have extracted from my Student Diplomacy Corps program to Italy, which has cultivated my new love for travel and inquisitiveness. Receiving this special opportunity to go abroad has changed my life.
From the first few moments we spent in the airport in New York, my SDC group members quickly established a great sense of harmony; we all arrived with the understanding that our experience on this program would essentially be colored by our attitudes and actions, so why not break down the barriers between myself and ten strangers. Everyone’s willingness to escape their comfort zones through the spirit of amiability resulted in the development of wonderful friendships. I truly appreciated how we were all driven academically and preparing for college and capable of having intellectually deep conversations, yet we each contributed in a unique personal way.
Everyone’s various backgrounds and perspectives on life helped me to see the world in new ways. I will forever cherish each of my group members.
Learning about the origins and purposes of historically influential cities such as Rome and Venice while basking in their beauty was incredible. Had I not been educated on the significance of the Venetian Empire first-handedly, I probably would not have retained such interesting information. Participating in the various cultural aspects of modern and ancient Venice from brick-making and glass-blowing to ship building also stimulated my understanding of the Italian lifestyle–something that I definitely could not have learned in school. I also absolutely loved living with my host family. Much like my initial approach to my group, I immediately sought to embrace my host family and dive into life as an Italian, and I am grateful for every moment spent with them. It was incredible to discover that though certain aspects of our lifestyles were similar, the differences were what made my time with them so memorable. I cried when I left them, it was as if I had been their daughter/sister for years.
As my SDC group and I ventured through the streets of Venice, Rovinj in Slovenia, and Pirano in Croatia, and many other fascinating places together, I was reminded of Woodrow Wilson’s quote that “friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” Though we learned of how the streets of the places we explored had been physically built, I inquired that the spirits of the cities were all held together through human relationships and unity. It was that same spirit of unity that kindled my love for my group and host family, and what has kept us all so close today.
But I would not have gained such insight without the opportunity bestowed by Student Diplomacy. I am truly forever thankful.
My painting below is of a photograph I took on the Venetian island, Burano. I absolutely loved the colors of the houses and buildings; they were festive and one of a kind just as my group members and my favorite part of Venice.
Sheridan Davenport – Atlanta, Georgia