Teresa Tande says she loves that Lake Region State College is rooted in the community and all ages can learn from the programs they offer.
But, the veteran humanities teacher admits she was pleasantly surprised at just how much they learned from each other during a recent trip to Europe.
She said the group consisted of 47 people, with nearly half of them students and the other half community members. Some of the travelers were senior citizens.
“I could not believe how quickly we all got to know each other,” she said.
Tande said they had an eclectic group, but all got along amazingly well.
“One student said that was the best part about the trip,” she said.
Nicole Claussen, Coordinator of International Programs/Diversity Chair at LRSC, said she saw students carrying luggage for their older travel partners and often the young and old teamed up to visit historical sites.
“It renewed my faith in the goodness of youth,” said Claussen. “It was one of the highlights for me.”
Traveler Gloria Knudsen said the kindness of the students did not go unnoticed.
During one bus ride, she said, they were delayed by a couple of hours and it could have been an unpleasant day, but the students managed to make it fun.
“The kids turned the lemon into lemonade,” she said.
Much to see
Tande said the trip was organized through Education First (EF), a company that specialized in college tours. She said the tours are fast-paced and packed with activities and sites to visit.
“They realize this may be the only chance for some of them to see this,” she said.
The ten-day tour included stops in Rome and Florence, Italy, Paris, France and London, England.
“It was a whirlwind,” said former teacher Karen Tarvestad. “We did and saw so much in a short amount of time.”
The best part of the trip varied from person to person.
“I really liked Paris at night,” said student Stephanie Klebe. “I really liked London with all the culture, the buildings were amazing.”
Klebe said she was able to view a ceremonial “Changing of the Guard” while in London.
Fellow student John Myhre said his favorite part was the visit to Pompei, a city in southern Italy famous for its ancient Roman ruins.
Myhre had done a presentation on the city in anticipation of the trip and was overjoyed to see the historic site up close.
“It was really cool to see,” he said. “If I go back to Italy it's definitely one of the places I'd like to stop.”
Community member Diane Amble said it was hard to choose just one favorite part of the trip.
Page 2 of 2 - “I loved going to England, I loved Paris, I loved the walking, I loved it all!” she said.
Tande said they all agreed that watching the Eiffel Tower light up from a riverboat cruise was among the highlights.
“Some of us gasped,” said Knudsen. “It was so beautiful.”
The Holy Three
One Sunday, three of the travelers, Claussen, Knudsen and Patty Crawford, decided to get up early and attend church at St. Peter's Basilica, which is said to have the largest interior of any Christian church in the world. It is located in Vatican City.
“It was huge, it had 44 altars,” said Knudsen.
She said the first sermon they came upon was in Polish and they set out to find Mass in English. They questioned a priest, who instructed them to wait. He gathered five more English-speaking parishoners, and led them through a door.
“He said 'I have something special for you today, and it's special for me, too,'” Knudsen recalled.
He told the group he had requested to say Mass in this chapel several times and had been denied. This time it had been granted.
She said they were led past the crypts where the popes and saints are buried, to the St. Clementine Altar, right next to the grave of St. Peter.
“He said, 'You are now in the second holiest place in the world, other than the Holy Land,” Knudsen said.
She said she reached out and touched the walls, although she felt unworthy to be there.
“There was something that brought us all together that day,” she said.
The three received another surprise when they learned the pope would be speaking to the public at noon.
“At six in the morning it was empty,” Claussen said. “By the time the pope arrived, there were probably 20,000 people.”
Knudsen said he spoke for 22 minutes in a number of different languages and although they couldn't understand the words, they were honored to be a part of it.
“It's one of those unplanned events,” Tande said, adding, “They've been dubbed the Holy Three.”