Introduction and the First Day in Rome

Hi! My name is Yuguang (Joe) Zhu, a senior from Westtown School. I am honored to be a blogger for the Italy Senior Project, and I believe I will bring a vicarious experience to you through my concise description of our tour. The Italy trip is a cultural immersion project that will not only intend to expose students to the Italian cultures, but also provide them with a living Latin experience. I am extremely excited about this trip, even though I have been to Italy once. Last time, I stayed with my family in Rome for only a day, so we did not obtain a holistic view of the city. This time, I hope I can delve into more historical, cultural, religious and artistic sites to learn about more cultural pieces and nuances of one of the world’s most famous cities.

Now, let me start out by sharing a few exciting moments during the first day of our trip:

  1. Because the main purpose that we joined this project is to be immersed in a spoken Latin culture, directed by Mr. Eric Hewett from the Paideia Institute, our group had a small Latin practice session at Trastevere, a neighborhood that literally means “beyond the Tiber river” in Latin. Despite my limited knowledge about Latin, I enjoyed a shared sense of collaboration among students. Undefeated by the coldness, everyone’s passion and enthusiasm for speaking, analyzing and understanding the Latin text were truly encouraging and contagious.



  1. We had GELATO in a COLD, WINDY weather! When our group leader asked whether we wanted to buy gelato in this weather, everyone immediately rushed into a gelato shop without a second thought. Embarking on a trip with a group of food lovers, I hugely anticipated for the next few days exploring more Italian cuisine


  1. Surrounded by many talented street musicians while strolling across the plaza of Trastevere, I realized the importance of music in European cultures. In Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, a 5th century church in Rome, I encountered a nun who played a unique musical instrumental that I had never ever seen. As a passionate music-lover, I was absorbed by the performance of these musicians and was fascinated of the power music that connects people together around the world.

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I am looking forward to the rest of the trip!


Joe Zhu

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