PCHS student experiences life-changing trip

Students from the Broncs World Tour 2011 stand in front of one of the historic lions in Munich

MIRANDA BROOKWELL/Youth Correspondent

“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize that they were the big things.” — Robert Brault.

Broncs World Tour 2011 was a life-changing experience for me. Upon my return, I felt like a different person — a stronger, better version of myself. We all hear that “there’s a big world out there” and when our mundane lives seem unbearable, we remember that. But to actually go out and explore that big world is quite a liberating experience. To know that there honestly is such a different place from where we are now, only an ocean away, is a truly wonderful thing to remember. I met many people, butchered a couple languages, and had an amazing time.

Perhaps the liberation that I felt on the trip was due to the mix of emotions I was exposed to. Extreme joy at the bustling city of Rome, extreme agony at Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany, and extreme sadness as I stood at the graves of soldiers at Assisi and Monte Cassino War Cemeteries. Our group saw so many amazing things on our journey that will be forever imprinted in my mind, but I find it strange that the most memorable moments, for me personally, were the little things. Allow me to give you all some examples.

I’m quite sure I consumed my weight in fresh raspberries and strawberries from the many fruit stands in Marienplatz (the city centre) in Munich, Germany while shopping and exploring.

While walking on our own through Lucerne, Switzerland, some friends and I found a nice little field by a large flowering tree that overlooked the city. We relaxed in the green grass in the shade of a fortress wall that has been there since medieval times. It was a truly perfect way to spend a part of the afternoon.

Teacher Ron Labrie took us to a small cafe in Florence known as Vivoli, where we tasted the most fantastic gelato on the planet. Flavour explosion. I have been unable to enjoy any mediocre ice cream at home since I have returned.

As if he couldn’t get any cooler, Mr. Labrie also impressed us with his dynamic and awesome dance moves at the Space Electronic Club in Florence. What a guy!

While standing in Assisi Cemetery in Italy, I came across a grave inscription that made me cry. I’m not sure why, but it had a very strong effect on me. It read, “In loving memory of a dear husband and daddy “anchored by love that death cannot sever.” “After reading so many headstones, it really hits home that these men were fathers, brothers, sons, and husbands. I was also fortunate enough to make a grave rubbing of an ancestor from England, D.W. Holliday. That was perhaps one of the most special moments of my life. I am so glad that we could honour and remember these men. They certainly deserve it.

Around sunset, I stood on the Spanish Steps in Rome with my friends while Camille Tschabold got an absolutely hilarious caricature done. She worried for the rest of the night that she actually looked like that. It was little things like these that made the trip so enjoyable — like dancing with my teachers at an Italian club, finding the Fernando Torres soccer jersey I wanted in a tiny shop, hanging out with the janitor’s cat at the Coliseum, and tossing coins in the Trevi Fountain, wishing with all my might to return to Rome.

The anonymity that I always feel in big cities is probably why I enjoy travelling more than anything. The chance to slip into another location, language, and culture is not something to be wasted. I realize that many of the sights we saw and the experiences we had may be once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and I’m glad I made the most of them.

Walking into the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City and holding hands tightly with one of my wonderful friends, Kiara Kjenner. We stood in awe and even fear as we gazed up at the image of the Last Judgment. The air was cool even though the room was packed with people, and a hush fell over us immediately. The masterpieces that surrounded us were breathtaking, and amid all of the serious themes we were facing in the Chapel, Michelangelo showed a hint of his snappy, cranky character – one of his critics is painted in the far corner of Hell with a snake about to take a large bite out of a certain part of his male anatomy.

I had to laugh.

I want to say a huge thank you on behalf of all of us who attended the Broncs World Tour 2011 to teachers Melissa Kleckner, Jody Macelroy, Darrel Feschuk, and Ron Labrie for being so much fun, putting up with us, and giving us the experience of a lifetime. I’ll never forget it.

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