By: Kristen O
ROME – Travelling back in time to Ancient Rome, simulating the life of a homeless person, and meeting our brothers and sisters from abroad; from the 4th October to the 7th October, eight Marymount Rome students were selected to attend the annual Leadership Conference, which was held in Rome. This conference involved four RSHM schools: Marymount International School of Rome (Villa), Instituto Marymount Nomentana, Marymount Paris and Marymount London. A few selected students from each of the schools joined to learn about leadership skills and how we put them to use in our own Marymount.
On Monday, the many Marymount schools got together in a conference room and discussed issues in the world or just in our schools; we had to pick a problem and think of ways to solve them. Afterwards, we went on tours with the Nomentana School, where they explained the history of Ancient Rome, after their tour, the Marymount Villa students went to the rooms of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Towards the end of the day, each student had some time to reflect on the day and answer some questions of the idea of friendship. Afterwards, we went into our school groups and talked about friendship in the school, discussing some pros and cons of our own school community.
On Tuesday, the 6th, we started off the day by playing a little game, we had to pretend to be homeless. We simulated a few months in the life of a homeless person. The teachers pretended to be different stations a homeless person would go to, to find a job and a way to live in general, for example, welfare center, employment office, grocery store, recycling center and more. Each month, we had to find a job, a place to sleep and food to eat, in order to survive. It was hard for many of us to even get one of those things. To get a job, you have to have an address, but to have a house, you would need money. All of the students thought it would be easier, but it really wasn’t. By the end of the game, we realized just how hard it is to be a homeless person; some people were able to be “alive”, but a lot of people weren’t. In this game we learned the struggles, a homeless person would go to, and our simulation of a few months in their lives, was still nothing compared to what they actually go through. The reason we played this game was because later on that day, we went to do service for homeless people, or refugees. Some students went to the soup kitchen for homeless people and others went to a refugee shelter.
On the very last day of the Leadership Conference, the students got the chance to attend a General Audience with Pope Francis. The audience started at around ten o’clock and everyone was so excited to be able to see the Pope in person. During the audience, there were prayers being read in many different languages and at the end, everyone read an “Our Father” in Latin.
After the Papal audience, we went on a stroll around Rome, spending time with our friends, before they left for the airport. It was a very emotional day because the students had to say goodbye to the people they have become friends with in the past few days, but it was also a great day because, when we got back to our schools we were able to start applying what we learned in this conference.
This conference was an amazing experience for all the students, and it was a great way to explore leadership qualities of our founders and saints, but most of all in Jesus and God himself. We all searched inside ourselves and let out all of the hidden talents we had, applying them throughout the four days we were together. We also hope we get a chance to apply them in our lives.
Quotes from Students:
“I loved the Leadership trip to Rome and how it helped see what a true leader really is. We all learned how a leader must sacrifice for others and should know the sacrifice of others.This conference in Rome was definitely a trip to remember!”
– Hannah G. Allen, 9, Marymount London.
“I think this was a great experience! Other than learning about Saints that were excellent leaders, we also had the chance to meet new friends, and to learn more about their cultures! We learned about homeless people (while we were helping at the soup kitchen), we learned about the importance of being a loyal friend, and most of all I think we all understood how lucky we are!”
– Zoe Baccini, 8, Marymount Villa
“This trip was unforgettable. Other than the many friends we met from many different countries we learnt many things whilst having lots of fun. We now have a better knowledge on leaders that became saints, leadership traits and what a leader does.”
– Elena Levantini, 8, Marymount Villa
This year, I learned more about leadership and different types of leaders. One of my favorite events from the trip was going to St. Peter’s Basilica. This is because I learned about different saints in greater depth and use their virtues to reflect on my skills and how I can improve or use them in our service projects. Another highlight was being able to volunteer at the Soup Kitchen. It gave me a chance to see homeless people in a new light. It was really fulfilling to be able to learn firsthand about them and help them.
– Nirali Jain, 7, Marymount Paris.