italy groupLast week, Providence students returned from a 3 week trip to Italy, highlighting stops in Florence, Rome, and Venice. The trip was part of Providence’s annual Avodah Immersion trip, designed for students to learn abroad.

The trip especially focused on ancient Rome, early church history, and Renaissance art. Stops in Florence included the Uffizi Gallery, the Academia Gallery, and the Il Duomo de Firenze.

In Rome, students spent ample time at the Vatican, the Colosseum, the ruins of the Roman Forum, the San Sebastian Catacombs, and the Capitoline Museum among numerous other stops. Providence collaborated with sister institution Geneva College during this May term trip. Geneva’s Jeff Cole, professor of history, brought years of on-site knowledge and expertise to guide students through Italy. Providence’s Ryan McIlhenny accompanied the students as well and provided much of the on-site instruction.

The trip was the culmination of one of McIlhenny’s classes, Western Humanities in Italy. The class provided a broad foundation in history, art, and literature. Required reading included Virgil’s The Aeneid and Dante’s Inferno. Perhaps most meaningful to the students was the docent assignment. Students, like junior Madison Vujnov with Rome’s Pantheon, spent much of the semester reading and researching a particular site or work of art. Once in Rome, the student docent then presented their research to the rest of the group. It was experiential learning at its finest!


“Standing in a medieval church, exploring the ruins of an ancient city, poring over Renaissance art, and whispering in Baroque churches all pointed back to the foundation of learning we had established back at Italy VeniceProvidence,” junior Amanda Heck said. Getting to know the history up close helped the students understand their own cultural history. “You begin to fully comprehend your little corner of the world as you stand oceans apart from it and learn to thrive in a foreign place,” Heck remarked. “By being in a different country, you learn to think fast, apply knowledge, gain more information, and be adventurous.”


This May’s trip to Italy is part of Providence’s hallmark Avodah program to equip students to effectively engage the diverse local and global community. Past trips have taken students to Cambodia, England, Israel, and Indonesia. All students at Providence have the opportunity to participate in one or more Avodah Immersion trips during their time at Providence. 

Italy Sophia