The GoGlobal Blog

I LANDed in a place of peace, Sicily!

I LANDed in a place of peace, Sicily!

Start each day with the mentality that you will learn something, whether it be from the people around you, places you visit, or information distributed to youHold on to the understanding that your greatest education is not in the number of degrees you hold, but in the moments you truly experience. It’s measured by how often you take yourself to a new place and discover something. It’s when you leave your comfort zone and explore, opening your eyes in ways you never thought possible. It’s taking something out of a single moment with you no matter how far in distance you goYou learn by living because lessons are constantly around you. 

I’ve been lucky enough to be taught beyond the realm of four walls, transforming a classroom into places bodies of water and continents apart. They’ve come to teach me more than basic subjects of science, history and math, making me evaluate what it is that can make me become a better individual and how I can not only help myself, but those around the world. Rome has opened my eyes to this world outside of my own and continues to remind me daily how important it is to take in all of life’s lessons. It’s taught me more than any other place ever could. 

 Although the world has been my greatest classroom, I still hold the role of student and am required to “study” like all others hoping to get diplomas, but am fortunate enough to go beyond the norm of lesson plans. Being apart of the John Felice Rome Center has given me the opportunity to combine my goals with experiences brought to me by impeccable educators. It has allowed me to remove myself from the typical scheduled curriculum and learn more than the limits of a syllabus. It’s a place without limitations, allowing students who are interested to attend courses even if only for a period. 

By doing this myself and joining a class for the day with no intentions of receiving credits, I learned, as the students ofthe Valued Based Leadership class do, that it’s only when you take the chance to see the world, that your blessed with the presence and understanding of world leaders. Professor Emilio Iodice, allowed me to learn the impact of world leaders by not sitting in a lecture room, but joining his students on a trip reflecting on Italy’s world leaders. 


We were given a private tour of Mussolini’s office, where we had the chance to stand on the balcony where he performed speeches and walk around a room where he planned the progression of a system of government, known as the Fascist movement. Although he lead a country to war and had much of a negative impact on the world, it was empowering to see how one place can have such on influence on the place I stand today. He brought Italy to it’s present day and I, of all people, was in his office. Realizing that much lead to Mussolini, we were taught about the leadership and impact of Julius Caesar walking the path of his daily life through the ruins of his home, senate, forum and temple where he later was assassinated. We were taught not be a book, but by what was right in front of us evoking emotions and empowerment within all of us. I stood in the place of former world leaders, making me question if there is ever anything stopping me from being one myself. 

My appreciation of the influential educators and people I’m surrounded with everyday was affirmed when attending the school trip to Sicily. I, along with 39 other students in my program, embarked on a journey to an Island in the Sun with the view of Africa across the sea. Without knowing it I had everything I ever needed, not a care in the world, and people just as beautiful as the places we were visiting. 

People always ask if you were stuck on an island, what would be the three things you’d bring. The answer would be simple, if I were to be lucky enough to be stuck on Sicily, absolutely nothing. After moments of stepping off the plane or ferry one loses sight of the needs for time, electronics, or worries. Watches were removed, phones were put away, and just being was all that was needed to fit right in. After what had been a stressful week of preparing for midterms, it was as if God knew this would be the perfect remedy. 

The Sicilian culture and people hit you before ever step foot on the island. Moments after take off, I learned through the actions and care of the Sicilian natives I was surrounded by that they were unlike any other people. They were more concerned with getting to know me as an individual, regardless of the slight language barrier, than the 45 minutes of sleep they’d be getting. They went for a simple conversation, but left me as life long friends I’d never forget. They invited their children to play with me, told me stories of their childhood among the mountains, and embraced me as if I was their own, when truly I was the farthest from it. It took me 45 minutes with 5 people, a two year old name Julia, her parents in their early thirties, and a couple happily carrying the title of Nonno and Nonna to experience first hand that regardless of origin or age, that these people and this trip would forever change me.


Once landing in Palermo, we started off our weekend in smaller surrounding cities among the hills where we experienced first hand the impact and influence the Greeks had on these Italian people. We got lost in the detail work of the Cathedral and Cloister of Monreale, wandered through the ruins of the Temple and Theatre of Segesta, and found ourselves overlooking the sea while admiring temples of Selinunte. We saw what we thought to be a place of true beauty, but little did we all know it was only the beginning, they were simply preparing us for what was coming.

We landed ourselves in the city of Agrigento where we’d be staying, learning about the enjoyments of their culture through food, tourists sites and night life. We enjoyed what I’d consider to be the greatest meal I’ve ever had at Trattoria Dei Templi, eating 9 courses that incorporated over 20 fish found within the waters of the Mediterranean daily. Between the changing of dishes and multiple toasts, I came to realize there was more than the food that was wonderful, it was the people on this study trip with me. 

After enjoying Agrigento we made our way East on the island to Piazza Armerina where we were taken away by the green grass and yellow Daisies found within the fields of ruins. Without even having to try, Sicily was naturally beautiful. The liveliness of its people resembled the bright colors of its land. The hills took us to the sea where we found ourselves in the city of Taormina, a place of high class, small buildings, and the greatest view of Mount Edna. Sitting in the Theatre with the sun shining enjoying a pistachio cannoli and the greatest view of the city was all I needed to get a full understanding as to why it was the top tourist destination of the island. There was no thinking just being, and the moment I realize I couldn’t leave we made our way to our final destination of Palermo.


Professor Evers warned us at the beginning of this trip, between being our very own tour guide, that Sicily would go straight into a special place in our hearts and become a place we’ll always strive to come back to. He was right about this, along with all of his historical facts, encouraging us to hold on to our memories of the island when needing a moment of relief for times of stress, doubt, or worry.

This trip brought me more than relaxation in times of complete insanity, it brought me lifelong friends who came with me as students, my Professor and Director of Academics Sander, and Student Life Assistant, Steven. I embarked on this weekend getaway without any of my closest friends, but came to experience the diversity and beauty of the students of the John Felice Rome Center through moments of complete chaos and serenity. We left our comfort zones together, enjoyed the wide range of activities and sites of the island and left being our very own “Sicilian” family. Sicilia settled in a special place in my heart because I was fortunate enough to not only discover an island, but the wonderful people I’m surrounded with daily.

Sicily opened my eyes to what was really important, to live a life finding the core reason to your happiness, whether that be in the amazing food you eat, in my case Sicily’s seafood, people you were surrounded with, or sites from hundreds of years ago. This lesson is the souvenir I returned to Roma with in hopes of finding a piece of Sicily within each of my days.


When returning to my daily routine I was brought back to the lessons given to the me earlier in the week about what it takes to be a world leader, one of which is recognizing when you need a break and the other finding the leader within all those around you. Sicily brought me to peace, while giving me a new and different appreciation for the country I live in. Roma, my home, brought me to the greatest leader in Italy and one of the most influential people in the world, an example who’s lessons are taken in by millions of people within the Catholic Church, Papa Francesco. Blessed with his presence during the return of my second Papal Audience, I was reminded that in order to lead an extraordinary life, I had to find the extraordinary way of living.

Ciao for now as I continue on my journey of leading & finding the many reasons as to why I’ve never been so happy.



Gabriella Lunich


Comments are closed.