Providence’s Grand Tour Experience – Three Perspectives

Written by Vickie Adair on May 19th, 2016

Senior Hailey Ferguson

As I walked into the Coliseum, I was overtaken with the gravity of what went on there. I could hear the roar of the crowds as Christians were martyred one by one, and feel the rumbling of the stands as the people jumped to their feet in excitement of the bloody spectacle.  What textbook could ever have offered me this experience?

The Grand Tour was always a trip I knew I would take. Year after year, the seniors would come back and talk about how amazing it was. I saw pictures with these familiar people standing in front of monuments I had learned about for so many years; The far away things we had been learning about in class were beginning to seem more and more real.

Now just imagine how I felt actually going on the trip! I got to see the Parthenon in Greece, the Coliseum in Rome, and the ruins of Pompeii! I got to ride in a gondola in Venice and roam the streets of Florence while eating gelato. Now how many people, let alone kids my age can say that?

Providence provides such a wonderful opportunity for students to go experience the culture and see the things we have spent all of our 12 years learning about. I had the time of my life, and the memories I made will forever be stuck with me.

Many people will ask me: was it worth the money you had to spend to go? And I always say absolutely! There is always plenty of time to fundraise, prices are reasonable, and it is truly a once in a lifetime trip. If I hadn’t gone, I would have always regretted it.


Parent’s Perspective – Vickie Adair

Traveling on the Grand Tour exceeded my expectations. Seeing pictures is nothing compared to seeing the real thing. Pictures do not accurately show dimensions or how structures relate to one another. When you see everything together and the tour guide starts talking, the lives of ancient people come alive.

Over time, Providence has created relationships with each hotel and with particular tour guides who really know how to relate to the students. I can’t say enough about Alice Kniss, Providence’s Grammar School Principal & Grand Tour Guide. She really challenges the students to pull from their education at Providence and make connections at each historical site visited. I was most impressed with Mrs. Kniss’ final instruction on art and how to biblically view art the night before the students went into the Uffizi in Florence.

As a parent, who values private Christian education, specifically, classical education, I was very impressed with how much the students knew about the progression of western civilization. It’s not just what they knew, it was like they were mini-history majors who were educating me and filling in the blanks and making the connections of historical names and events I’ve heard. I’m grateful I was part of a very memorable trip.

Senior Katarina Kowalick

The experience of touring Europe was incredible. Athens is like one giant, looping stretch of street. With its musicians, restaurants, wild graffiti, hodge-podge ruins, stray cats, and (terrifyingly persistent) street venders, the city has an energetic taste to it.

Rome is much more “uptown” and clean-cut, although its exuberant nightlife can’t be beat. I remember walking around the towering carved fountains of the Piazza Navona, watching street-artists with their dancing fingers and the glowing lights that venders would shoot into the twilight sky.  The architecture of Italy was a glorious jumble of ancient puzzle-pieces. Those pieces were clues to a past culture that was too stubborn to fade away. Walking among the ruins of the Coliseum, the Acropolis, and St. Peter’s Basilica, I felt as if I was in the presence of ghosts.

We also stopped in a tourist city called Sorrento and waded out into the Mediterranean. There we consumed huge amounts of gelato in Florence.

I turned seventeen in Venice, our final destination. It was pouring down rain when we climbed off the train. We stood in awe under the shelter of the terminal as gondolas and motorboats slid across the canals. Our class ran across the little aching bridges and explored the shops along the narrow alleyways. Venice is a maze of a city. There’s something really magical and unique about it. I had dreamed of going there for as long as I could remember, which made the visit a birthday wish come true.

The Grand Tour wasn’t just an educational experience, although we did learn and experience a great deal. This trip was a once-in-a-life-time, eye-opening adventure. I was so incredibly blessed to be a part of it!


Hailey Ferguson, Kat Kowalick