The school trip to Italy has been a popular topic of conversation among Hanover High School students lately. When the trip was called off last Thursday because of the recent bombings in Brussels – just 22 days before we were supposed to leave — students were devastated. Mr. Paquette surprised everyone once again with an email Saturday morning stating that the trip was back on with added security measures. Responses from parents and students were mixed. Some were wary of any international travel after the attacks. Others are willing to take the risk of potential terrorist activity in exchange for a life-changing trip. I completely understand that it is a tough decision whether to take part in the trip or not in light of recent events, and there is no “right” answer. In the end, it comes down to the family and what they are comfortable with. In the end, there was no question for me whether to go to Italy or not. I had been looking forward to this trip since it was first planned back in 2015 and would let nothing, not even ISIS, stand in my way. Here’s what led to my decision:
1. The government issued a travel ALERT, not a WARNING. Although these words have pretty similar definitions in every day life, they are vastly different when in comes to the safety of international travel. A travel alert, which was issued after the Brussels bombing, is basically a wake-up call to Americans that yes, the world is a dangerous place. In contrast, a warning is a much more serious and is a strong deterrent from any travel. The travel alert is definitely warranted, and there are very real threats in the world, but this is not anything new.
2. We will be constantly on the move. As part of the trip we will be covering a lot of ground. Florence, Venice, Pompeii, Capri, and Rome are all of the heavy hitters on the itinerary, but we will also be exploring some of the lesser-known Italian attractions such as the towns of Orvieto and Sorrento. These small cities are much less likely to be targeted for a terrorist attack, and the many hours that we will spend on the road will likely keep us safe as well.
3. You are just as likely to be the victim of a terrorist attack as you are to be struck by lightning. The Brussels bombings were a tragic event and nothing can justify the loss of life on that terrible day. Thirty five people were killed and hundreds of others sustained injuries. Let’s not forget, however, that there are 7 billion people on this earth. That means that your chances of being killed in a terrorist attack on that particular day were .000000005 percent. Even on the days when terrorism strikes especially hard, you still have a greater chance of winning the Powerball jackpot than you do of being a victim.
4. If I didn’t go, the terrorists would have won. Inflicting fear is the point of terrorism, after all. If I stayed home over April vacation because of a fear that I might end up the victim of a terrorist attack, I have accomplished exactly what ISIS is looking to do. If we shelter ourselves and become isolated from the world in fear of groups like ISIS, we become just as ignorant of all the beauty and goodness the world has to offer as they are.
5. I’ve never tasted Italian gelato. Seriously. There are so many delicious Italian foods I have to cross off my bucket list, monuments to see, shops to explore, and people to meet in Italy. I just could not pass up the opportunity to grow my world and take in as much of this beautiful country as I could in 10 days.
6. I’d rather take risks than have regrets. Traveling abroad always poses a threat. If it’s not ISIS you’re worried about, it could be a plane crash, the airline losing your luggage, being separated from the group, and the list goes on. For me, it is all about the pros and cons. Yes, while there is a slight chance that any of those things may happen, I know for a fact that I will have an amazing experience in Italy and will never have the chance to explore a beautiful European country surrounded by my best friends again. In the end, this is what it came down to for me. I knew that I would forever look back and regret my decision if I chose not to go to Italy, and now instead of this regret I will be left with memories I will cherish for years to come.