Loreto Mandeville Hall, Toorak’s Study Trip to Italy 2023
“Loreto schools encapsulate the beliefs and spirit of Mary Ward in delivering an education that inspires strong, passionate, and confident girls and young women.”
A great spirit of adventure accompanied 29 students and 4 staff as they embarked on an 18-day itinerary through Italy in the Term 1 holiday. Their dream, nourished by learning the Italian language, culture, and history, offered many opportunities for personal growth and a deepening awareness of our Mary Ward heritage worldwide.
Throughout the tour, students were afforded many opportunities to consider future study in Italy; visiting Monash University’s Prato Campus gave them a taste of what it would be like to complete part of an undergraduate degree in Italy. While the Scuola di Italiano per Stranieri di Firenze Società Dante Alighieri inspired our students to consider ways in which teaching Italian to newly settled Ukrainian women can form part of a social justice program.
Of all the experiences, the two-day immersion program at the Scuola Dame Inglesi in Vicenza, a P – 10 school run by the Mary Ward Foundation, initiated by the religious congregation (the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, now Congregation Jesu), founded by Mary Ward herself in 1609, was a highlight. We were welcomed by Preside Elena Da Vita, the Sisters, teachers, and students, who invited our students to spend time in their classes. After weeks of preparing language and cultural projects, Loreto Toorak students engaged in activities designed to assist the Scuola Dame Inglesi students in learning about Australia. It was beautiful to see the students from both schools work together and understand how they are part of the worldwide Mary Ward family.
Student Mimi Lechte exclaimed, “I absolutely LOVED visiting the Dame Inglesi school in Vicenza and teaching the kids to play footy; they were so sweet! I smile just thinking about our time there.”
“Visiting Scuola Dame Inglesi in Vicenza is a cherished memory. The children’s genuine excitement was indescribable; they created an atmosphere of warmth and happiness which deepened my love for Italy and the Italian people. The Scuola Dame Inglesi will forever hold a special place in my heart.” recounts Angelina Zhu.
Whilst in Rome, our students participated in a self-guided Mary Ward walking tour visiting several sites connected to Mary Ward during her three visits to Rome. These included Mary Ward’s house and school, the English College, Palazzo Farnese, Campo Dei Fiori, the Chancelleria, and the Church of Il Gesu.
Our students appreciated the significance of attending the Papal Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Easter Sunday and fondly remember it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We were also delighted to catch up with Srs Natalie Houlihan ibvm and Geraldine Moktan ibvm from the Institute Leadership Team, who joined us for dinner in Rome.
Travel affirms the importance of maintaining a continuous learning pattern and awareness throughout life. It enables us to understand that in addition to creating irreplaceable memories of emotions and humanity, travel allows us to find our strengths and define our values.
For the tour leaders, proud to accompany the Italian students of Loreto Mandeville Hall, Toorak, one of the most rewarding aspects of the study trip was to witness the development of self-awareness in our students and memorable moments of reverence and reflection. By using their language skills effectively, they understood the depth of their capabilities, their interconnectedness with other communities, particularly our Mary Ward family, and that travel can become one of life’s most transformative experiences.
Our students returned to Melbourne with more than cherished memories; most importantly, they have become more aware that they form part of a wide circle of friends in the Mary Ward community and that through their education, they can carry on the work of all who wish to bring justice, equality, and truth to the world.
Author: Caterina Chng, Teacher of Italian & Head of Loreto Academy, Loreto Toorak