By Chelsea Rankin
Patrick Henry College
Freshmen Christine Reid (l), Aphrodite Sahinidis, Mikayla Feil, and Chloe Rice
Freshman Christine Reid lives by a “why not?” mentality. So when Dr. Douglas Favelo, PHC’s Assistant Professor of History, sent an email to students offering a spring break trip to Rome, Reid eagerly signed up.
“Why not go to Rome with some of my best friends and with a professor who can tell us all about it?” Reid said.
Each spring, Favelo takes 15 students to Rome during spring break to see history up close. This year, they visited the Baths of Diocletian, the first McDonald’s in Rome, St. Peter’s Museum and Basilica, the National Museum of Rome, the Theater of Marcellus, Pompeii, the Pantheon, the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus, the Trevi Foundation, the Colosseum, as well as dozens of other places and churches.
“There is, indeed, no better way to learn history than to see, touch, hear, and, in general, live the history,” Favelo said, “History is an essential discipline, an essential component to us developing into holistic, Christ-serving beings. Thus, if the Lord provides the resources, why not do it as best we can – by experiencing it?”
Students met with Dr. Favelo every day after breakfast for a guided tour of the city. Dinner time was “free time,” where students could set out and explore the city on their own. At night, students could continue to tour the city, or play games in the hotel with Dr. Favelo. One of Favelo’s favorite parts of the trip is playing games with students, because they bring people together and build relationships.
Aside from playing games, Favelo loves watching the moment where everything “clicks” for a student on the trip.
“It is a wonderful sight when a person realizes, ‘The universe is, in fact, bigger than the time-space continuity from 1991ish in my hometown,” he said. “It’s big, a great chain of events and personalities, and I am a rather tiny part of it.’ Oh, sure, we would all say we knew this, but at some point it must become a core belief, not just head knowledge. The next step is to realize that this great chain of events and personalities is for God’s pleasure and glory.”
Sophomore Alissa Robertson had several moments where everything clicked for her.
“The soul longs for beauty,” said Robertson, “Seeing the churches with all their grandeur and glory really makes you reflect on the glory of God. It was very humbling and refreshing for the soul. God is beautiful and these churches really depicted the goodness, the truth, and the beauty of who He is.”
Robertson’s favorite part was walking up the steps that Jesus had walked up. Jesus had walked up them when being tried by Pontius Pilate, and Constantine’s mother brought them over from Jerusalem. To go up the steps, everyone is required to walk up on their knees and pray on each step.
“It was a reminder of the sacrifice Jesus made, and it brought reality to that,” Robertson said. “Being able to walk up and see something that Jesus walked up just a couple thousand years ago made me reflect on how real and deep his love is.”
She loved traveling with Dr. Favelo and learning about the many sites from him.
“It was the best experience for your money,” she said. “He knows everything and was the best tour guide. He has a really fun personality where he gets all excited about little things, like a bust.”