Wakefield students and teacher on their trip in Italy. (Photo Courtesy of Dawn Valentino)
Wakefield students and teacher on their trip in Italy.

Photo Courtesy of Dawn Valentino

Students make the decision to travel abroad

February 16, 2017

Listening to unique music, eating different foods, and discovering new cultures perfectly describes the traveling abroad program offered to Wakefield students. Students participating in this program have traveled to many places throughout the years and learned much about other cultures. This year the program is traveling to a new and exciting place: Paris. This program takes place over the course of ten days in July (10th through the 19th) and includes tours led by an expert, sightseeing tours and entrances to many historical places.

Dawn Valentino, art teacher at Wakefield high school and leader of this travel abroad program, commented on how the program was created and why Wakefield continues to participate.

“I first got on board with [the travel abroad program] because Mr. Bilga invited me to be his assistant for a few years. I went with him and eventually, he decided not to do it for a while and passed the torch to me,” Valentino said. “After a while, we both did separate trips because we both wanted to go different places, but really it was Mr. Bliga that inspired me to do it.”

Valentino also believes this is a great opportunity and that is enriching for students in various ways.

“It really brings books to life,” Valentino said. “All these years I have studied art history and when I went [to Paris] for the first time I found that all of those things kind of came to life for me. It was so moving that I had to continue the tradition to bring students there. For me, bringing that to reality for them is super important.”

Mira Valentino, a freshman at Wakefield high school who is planning on going to Paris with the traveling abroad program, commented on why she is especially excited to go.

“I like trying new foods,” Mira Valentino said. “It’s a completely different feeling, I don’t know how to explain it.”

Senior Caroline Richards, who is also planning to attend, explains why she is eager to go on the trip.

“I’m really excited to go to France. I have taken levels one through five of French so I’m really excited to go and finally visit,” Richards said. “ Mrs. Valentino is great and I think it will be a really great opportunity for anyone.”

Valentino also talks about what she plans to do on each trip and what she hopes to teach each student that she brings.

“I try to pick trips that go to multiple countries,” Valentino said. “Some students I have are bilingual that help me out but really it’s about just engaging these students in real life experiences so that it can open their eyes to the world so that they can feel confident to travel abroad, to study abroad and to explore new things in the world. [Also] to see how new cultures live and to invest part of their future because we live in this little Wakefield bubble and then all of a sudden you are on a plane for 15 hours and you end up somewhere else that’s nothing like here and it’s really exciting.”

Traveling abroad is much more than just going to a different place for a few days (ten days to be exact). It’s about experiencing different cultures and learning new things. It’s about gaining confidence to see the world and discovering its beauty.

“We go abroad and we get to see history much older than ours,” Valentino said. “ The historical aspect, the architecture, the cultures, the foods, everything you don’t get here, you get to experience.”


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