The group of 11 students, teachers and chaperones from Keeseekoose Chiefs Education Centre who travelled to Rome and Athens at the end of June, was not only immersed in ancient Greek and Roman history, but members also received an up close view of significant challenges of contemporary Greek culture and politics.
Teresa Sanderson, a Keeseekoose teacher, led the group which included her husband Kevin and other chaperones Eunice Ketchemonia-Cote and Randi Dawn Keshane; Elbert Keshane, an elder, and students Tristan Keshane, Kishaun Gervais, Christie Whitehawk, William Desnomie, and Faith Ketchemonia. Another student, Melvin Musqua, joined the group in Montreal.
The group left Regina for Rome on June 25, and returned home from Athens on July 4.
After flying to Toronto and Montreal, the group arrived in Rome at 8:30 a.m. after not having slept, Sanderson said last week as she talked about the trip.
“We met our tour guide and then waited for other students to arrive from New Brunswick and Quebec,” Sanderson said. “Our group was 35 in total.”
Because the check-in time at the hotel was not until 4 p.m., the students spent all morning and the beginning of the afternoon on a sightseeing tour of the city, she said. The day ended following a buffet supper at a restaurant.
“We were all so tired.” Among the sights of Rome the students saw were the Spanish Steps and the Sistine Chapel, she said. On the next day, which was Saturday, almost the entire day was spent at the Vatican, including St. Peter’s Bascillica.
Highlights of the Sunday visit included seeing the Roman Coliseum, the Forum and the Catacombs. The students were not impressed with the Italian pizza.
On Monday, everyone boarded the bus for a trip south to Pompeii and after a sight-seeing tour of the ancient city that was covered by ash from nearby Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., the bus crossed the country to the Adriatic coast where they took a ferryboat ride to Greece.
In Greece on Tuesday, the tour crossed the Strait of Corinth and stopped at the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, which was the site of the ancient Olympic Games, and then went to Athens.
July 1 and 2 were spent touring Athens, which included time spent on the Acropolis, the modern Olympic Games stadium and the downtown area near the government buildings where Greek citizens were assembling to demonstrate views on the government’s critical financial situation, she said. “We had planned to meet at the McDonalds which was on the corner of the main square downtown and outside a huge demonstration was happening.
“Earlier that day, we had seen police everywhere, and when we had asked what was happening, no one told us,” she said. The only way we knew what was going on was on Facebook because the television and newspapers were all in Greek.
Sanderson explained how some members of her group, including her sister Eunice, had found herself in the midst of crowded streets, while another member, like all the citizens of the country, was not able to withdraw money from an automated bank machine.
“But it was exciting for us, seeing the streets jampacked.” The group left Athens on July 3.
The students were amazed at everything, even though some were afraid at the Catacombs, Sanderson said. “We did lots and lots of walking and we really enjoyed our hotel in Athens, which had a view of the sea. “We went to so many museums, and we learned so much.”
Many of the students want to become international travelers, she said, adding that the group has begun talking about a possible trip to Hawaii in 2016.