blr play it forward 2014 memorial scholarship winner essay
Jami Mathers was our memorial scholarship fund student winner last summer:
We were only, um- completely jealous when we found out she was off to Italy with her awarded funds for her adventure during this school year. Words from her trip:
Upon arriving in Milan, my group had an extra day to discover Italy. We first drove to Lake Maggoire for the best view of the Alps in all of Italy. The town surrounding the lake was small and cute. The day was absolutely gorgeous. We had free time to walk around the petite shops and relax by the lake. It wasn’t long before we were back on the tour bus and driving to our hotel in Punta Sabbioni or Tranchetto.
In the morning, we took a boat over to the mainland of Venice and arrived at a factory where we saw a glassblowing demonstration. The art of it is purely amazing. Every different form and style of Venetian glass is divine and sparkles with beauty.
After the demonstration, we took a guided tour around the entire city. We walked through the shops on the Rialto Bridge, rode a gondola on and through the Grand Canal and lastly, we visited the Bridge of Sighs. Once the tour was over, we had time in Saint Mark’s Square to roam. I chose to see the Museo Correr and the Archeological Museum. Both buildings were remarkably beautiful, especially the Museo Correr. The entire building is made with naturally colored marble, making the walls look as if they were elaborately painted.
There is more to come, and yet I’m already in love.
In the morning we drove five hours to arrive in the city of Florence. Today, I accessed the Accademia or the Uffizi where the architecture was phenomenal. Afterwards, we walked to a local leatherworks showroom where we received a demonstration on leather in Tuscany. I’ve always loved the smell of leather, but true Italian leather beats it all.
When we had lunch today, the food was heavenly. I wanted more and more of everything; it all looked so good.
I ended the day by sitting in the main square, watching the sun go down with a cup of gelato in my hand, ending another beautiful day.
Today, I was in Pisa. I love the area around the Cathedral, Baptistery and the Leaning Tower. We first entered the Cathedral and then made our way next door to the Baptistery. The Baptistery is the largest in the world and is the only Baptistery in the world that is spherical. Every day at noon, the owner comes in and sings where her words are echoed twelve times. We arrived at noon. The complete overwhelming silence in the Baptistery as the owner sang was utterly chilling yet beautiful.
The Leaning Tower was next in line. I lay in the grass as I ate yet another gelato and beheld the tower’s glamourous imperfection.
After leaving Pisa, we had dinner back in Tuscany. The restaurant overlooked the valley as the sun set.
Today, I spent another evening in Florence to see the Duomo and the Statue of David. Each was a fabulous work of art in themselves.
By mid-afternoon, we arrived in Assisi. I didn’t think that I’d like Assisi, but once we arrived, I don’t like I ever want to leave. It is the exact image you get in your mind when you picture Italy; it is completely picturesque. I haven’t been here long, and I’m already so completely in love with Assisi.
We visited the Basilica of St. Francis and just like the town, every aspect of it was unexplainably gorgeous.
Afterwards, we hiked up to the top of the town where a rather large castle rest. Looking out into the distance, you see magnificent gentleman farms for miles, while surrounded by mountains.
Today, we explored the ruins of Pompeii. It’s no doubt that tourists and visitors are reminded of the tragedy that took place long ago as Mount Vesuvius lurks in the background. When the volcano erupted, it not only destroyed an entire town, but it also practically mummified the residents. Today, you can see them perfectly preserved in clay moldings. When you see their last moments, you often find yourself filled with compassion yet curiosity. They make you realize exactly how valuable a single second is in life. They make you reflect upon your life as a whole.
After the tour of the Pompeii, we saw a cameo demonstration outside of the ruins. Once done shopping or souvenirs, we transferred over to the other side of the island in the Sorrento Region. The Mediterranean Sea was located directly behind our hotel. Tonight, we walked around and relaxed by the beach.
After breakfast, we took a boat over to the island of Capri. Then, we took an island boat tour around the entire island of Capri. Everything is completely picturesque.
Afterwards, we took a trolley up to Capri Town where we went to a perfume factory and visited the “Garden of Augustus”. At the garden, I saw great views down on the Faraglioni Rocks. I love everything about Capri; it doesn’t matter which winding street you go down, there will always be a delicious fragrance in the air or an amazing view to the side.
Once the tour was over, we took the trolley back down to the lower level of Capri. Then, I relaxed by the sea as I ate my billionth cup of gelato. I wish I could stay here forever. Tomorrow is nearly here and I don’t want to leave.
After leaving Capri yesterday, we drove to Rome that evening and checked into our hotel where we then ate dinner.
We had to wake up early this morning to go to the Vatican, because the Pope was coming to the country for a meeting. We walked through the Vatican Museums and were the very last group to enter the Sistine Chapel. The few minutes you have in the Chapel are completely silent and entirely overwhelmed with peace. It feels as if all the problems in the world have never seemed to exist.
Once out of the Chapel, we went to St. Peter’s Square, but the Pope had already shut down the Basilica. We then walked to the Colosseum and through the Roman Forum. From there, we visited the Spanish Steps and the Piazza Navona via the Pantheon.
I ended my last night in Italy eating gelato next to the Trevi Fountain. It seems as though every part of my trip was dream.
By day 2 she was in love, by day 7 she was realizing exactly how valuable a single second is in life, and by day 8 she felt like she didn’t want to leave. Ahhh- This is why we do this! If I know anything for sure, I know Jami will now dream even bigger, live even better, and be inspired to do even more than she already imagined was possible!
We don’t just have an event, we bring people together. We don’t just give money to students, we provide the opportunity to open minds and change perspective. We don’t just think travel/exploring something new has the power to change a life for the better, we know it does.
Today is Friday July 10, 2015 and we are about to kick off our 4th Annual Event. I can’t believe it has been 4 years. I am so proud of all of our scholarship winners like Jami, and I am so thankful for every last person who helps, plan, participate, donate, and execute every detail to make this all happen. Play It Forward is powerful. It means something big. I am thrilled to know we will be doing this for many years to come. There are so many amazing people to honor, so many happy memories to celebrate and so many young people to support in chasing all that’s possible.
Thank you for sharing, Jami! We hope you will stay inspired, dream big, and continue to work hard believing in everything.
Hope to see everyone in the community out joining us for fun and doing good this weekend!
#PlayForwardGiveBack #Inspired #Travel