On Tuesday 23rd of January, 50 pupils from the Matrix Academy Trust travelled from Gatwick Airport for a trip to Rome with the Turing Scheme. The Turing Scheme is a government initiative that fully funds a range of international opportunities for young people to go abroad and experience different cultures around the globe. Pupils who participate in this scheme are selected via criteria provided by the Department for Education.
After a smooth journey and arriving at our hostel, we made a swift departure to our first activity. Our group of 55 tackled the metro for the first time and walked our way to “Aroma Ostia” where our host school met us for an Italian cooking masterclass. During this class, our Chef taught us how to make pasta from scratch, along with the art of producing “carbonara” sauce, a dish that was born in Italy.
Throughout the week our mornings consisted of a rotation between groups, some taking themselves back to ancient Rome by visiting the Colosseum, some visited Castel Sant’Angelo which was commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum, and some visiting our Italian partner school learning about various aspects of their culture including music, literature, fashion and food. One group even took part in an inclusion workshop raising awareness of disabilities.
After lunch, our pupils came back together and started their week by being trained as true gladiators at the gladiator school. This included a fitness assault course, practicing and testing a variety of fighting techniques before our Empress (Ms Callanan) would decide their fate. Pupils also opened their mind into the “museum of dreamers” experiencing an adult-size ball pit, various illusions and not to mention beating their fears (literally). Our afternoon of imagination delved deeper into Vigamus where pupils were led on journey of time on the evolution of video games. Our sightseeing continued when strolling down the Spanish Steps to the renowned Trevi Fountain before dining in a local restaurant.
Our final few days were spent zipping through the trees of Rome at Eurpark High Ropes. It was incredible to see the number of pupils who overcame their fears and pushed through their limits to reach new heights before we caught the train to the shores of Ostia, where some pupils even dipped their toes in the sea! Mount Vesuvius was our next destination, with a 20 minute hike up to the viewpoint at the top of the volcano and a further 5 minutes to the crater. Pupils were in awe of the beauty of the bay of Naples, before seeing the steam being produced out of the dormant volcano. Having learnt about the history of Vesuvius, our next stop was the Herculaneum, a UNESCO heritage site which was covered in volcanic ash and rediscovered during excavations in the mid 18th century.
We couldn’t have left Rome before visiting the Stadio Olimpico, home to football clubs Roma and Lazio, and currently hosting the six nations! Following this, we took a trip abroad whilst abroad by visiting the Vatican City, the world’s smallest country! This tour included a visit to the Sistine Chapel, famous for papal ceremonies and used by the sacred college of cardinals.
Our week in Italy was spent experiencing various aspects of culture, encountering many new experiences and bringing more of our students together to create stronger connections.
Our pupils share their thoughts:
“The trip to italy was really great. I am very happy to have had the chance to go on a trip like this for free and have made so many friends in the process. I liked the rooms at the hostel, and how stress-free you guys made everything by everything being so organised and how there was a diverse range of things to do. The metro and bus rides were good, and got less busy due to good planning. Some things that we did that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy I turned out liking such as the school visit. The children there were lovely and despite the struggle communicating with some words, it was fun talking to them about what their life is like and comparing ours together. The museum of dreamers was my favourite because it was unlike anything I have ever done before. It was a unique experience which helped me with insight and keeping an open mind. I liked seeing the sights such as the colosseum, the Herculaneum and museums like the Vatican, gaming and the dream one. I liked the Vatican and the castle a lot because it was nice to see religious artefacts and art that I have always wanted to see. Thank you for the opportunity and choosing a great city like Rome.” – Alfie
“This trip to Italy was amazing, I’m so thankful I’ve had the opportunity to go to such a great place and it being free! Thanks to Ms Callanan, Mr Kendall, Mr Aspinall, Ms Thomson, and Ms Thompson. This week has been really fun and I haven’t felt this happy in ages! 10/10″ – Dylan
“My favourite part of the Rome trip was probably day three, when we went to the Colosseum. After that we went to the Museum of Dreamers as well as the Video Game Museum. We got to try local foods such as carbonara and actual Italian pizza! I also loved the day that we did the high ropes since I have a fear of heights and I overcame it a bit! In the end it was really fun! I made new friends from schools like Bloxwich and Dame Elizabeth Cadbury. On the coach rides we sang along to songs together. Overall the trip really improved my confidence.”