My Big Fat Greek Trip: Latin students visit Greece

Saba Nia

The Latin program offered its first trip to Greece April 6-14 to expose students to the practical use of the language and Ancient Greek culture.
Latin teacher Mercedes Barletta and history teacher George Gaskin, who chaperoned last year’s trip to Rome, led one eighth grader, five freshmen, five sophomores, one junior and a senior.
Like on the Rome trip, the Latin students traveled with two guides from the Paideia Institute. At the historical and cultural sites they visited, like the Castle of Agamemnon in Mycenae, an ancient stadium in Olympia and the Castle of Palimidi in Napflio, students used their knowledge of the language to translate ancient texts.
“I think my goal for any trip is to help bring the ancient world alive for my students,” Barletta said. “I think any student of Latin will throughout their life be asked why do you study that language.”
Barletta said seeing the language in practice in another country allows them to see the uses in daily life.
“Giving the students the opportunity to see really firsthand [that] you can study this language and go be in the world and see amazing things, and, yes, read inscriptions off walls, I think it’s really just a special opportunity for them to realize that there’s more than just being in the classroom and studying this language in a book,” Barletta said.
The group spent its first two nights in Athens, where it visited the Acropolis and ancient temples. They also visited Nafplio, the original capital of modern Greece, which Barletta said was “very clean, organized and beautiful with its harbor.” Barletta said Nafplio was the group’s favorite city because of its natural beauty.
“I think my favorite part was just the scenery we were able to see,” Samuel Buckley-Bonano ’19 said. “Every day we were able to climb a different fortress and see a vista larger and more incredible than the last, so just the experience of that was great and getting to know people in that same setting.”
The students also traveled to Olympia and Delphi after Nafplio, where Barletta said they enjoyed the picturesque mountains and valleys with the Aegean Sea. She said that every place appeared to be prettier than the last and that they were captivated by the “diversity of the landscape” and “wonderful lushness of everything.”
Students said in addition to visiting cultural attractions and exploring the varying topographical landmarks, they appreciated having a setting to practice their Latin.
“Trips like these are amazing for bonding with your classmates while also seeing beautiful places and getting to experience the culture,” Taia Chen ’19 said. “Students can have a wonderful time with their classmates.”