Young travelers take to the road
Posted: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 9:04 pm
By: Glenda Caudle, Special Features Editor
By GLENDA CAUDLE
Special Features Editor
The countryside was beautiful. But they had to see most of it from the bus Tuesday.
There’s simply not much way to cover the distance from Lake Lucerne through Lugano in Switzerland and on to Verona in Italy and avoid lots of riding.
And so the nine rising seniors from Obion County Central, Union City and South Fulton high schools and their chaperones — UCHS English teacher Joanna Wisener and her husband, Clark — had ample opportunity to get to know their fellow tourists well on the Cosmos Travel bus bearing them to the southeast on their trip of a lifetime, but not much opportunity to interact with residents of the area they were passing through.
“Outside of the pretty country they saw leaving Switzerland and coming into Italy, Chase said they really didn’t get to stop and see much except for the famous balcony of Romeo and Juliet in Verona,” said Dawn Bowling, whose son is a UCHS member of the Class of 2011. “They had just arrived at their hotel at 7 p.m. in Venice when he called and he said they were all exhausted from traveling all day. They were going to eat and then decide if they were up to exploring any until bed time,” Mrs. Bowling reported in her call to The Messenger Tuesday afternoon.
After adventures such as climbing to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral — up 540 steps — in London, viewing Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower, taking a frigid dip in Lake Lucerne in Switzerland and the many other exploits the group of 11 has enjoyed since arriving in Europe early last Wednesday, June 16, it may have been time for a little inactivity. The remainder of their journey — after a second night in Venice — will take them to Florence and Rome and, finally, home again on Sunday.
The trip’s cost is completely covered by Union City Rotary Club, which also provided passports for each carefully selected student and chaperone; matching gold shirts with the Rotary Club emblem to be worn as they begin and end their educational vacation; special security pouches for keeping up with essentials like passports, loose currency in the form of leftover English pounds, Swiss francs and euros, and special bank cards issued free of charge by First State Bank in Union City so the travelers can pay for meals not covered by their Cosmos Travel Tour, “tip” their tour guide and bus driver, enjoy a couple of “extra” treats not included in the basic cost of the tour and buy tickets for trips on the underground within cities and the taxis to reach Rome’s airport Sunday morning.
Also contributing to the success of the trip has been Wood Communication Cellpage of Fulton, an authorized Verizon retailer, who provided a phone that Mrs. Wisener keeps in her possession until the group arrives at their location each evening. At that point, the students take turns calling home and one of them reports the day’s activities each evening. Parents who receive the messages then alert all the other families and fill in The Messenger, as well.
Students were asked to leave their own cell phones and computers at home to avoid costly international rates, possible loss or theft and the temptation to spend time communicating with folks at home instead of making the most of their travel opportunities.
In addition to Bowling, whose parents are Darren and Dawn Bowling of Union City, UCHS is also represented on the free Rotary Club trip by Trey Maddox, Kassadie Mullins, Cameryn Fishel, Jasmine Davis, Lakevius Turner and Megan Hickman. Alton Alexander was chosen from OCCHS and Jacob Cleaver from SFHS. All are members of the Class of 2011 and all were selected by a special Rotary Club trip committee, which interviewed each of them.
Since their selection in November, they have completed research papers on the countries they have been visiting and have attended special Saturday and after school classes to learn more about the history, customs, language, monetary systems, foods and art and architecture of some of the outstanding cities in Europe they have visited on their 12-day trip.
They were asked to record their impressions in special travel journals, also provided by Rotary, and will be asked to present programs about their experiences to classmates, Rotary Club members and other interested groups upon their return.
Union City Rotary Club is the only Rotary group — and quite possibly the only other civic, educational or charitable group of any kind — to fund such an undertaking for students who wanted to see the world and convinced the selection committee they would make the most of the opportunity — not only for themselves, but also for their fellow travelers.
Mrs. Caudle may be contacted at glendacaudle @ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 6.23.10