The Gold Light: History, Hope, and Change

By Jacqueline Boratyn — After being in Italy a week, it still seems like just yesterday I was walking off the plane into 80 degree weather…only now, with lots of rain accompanying it.

I still haven’t quite mastered the language, but the fact that I studied Spanish has definitely paid off. Over the course of a week I have visited not only over 2 dozen restaurants and a dozen gelato shops, but also The Roman Forum, The Pantheon, and my personal favorite, The Colosseum. It was amazing to stand in the middle of a structure that is over a thousand years older than the United States!

Our class that day was structured around the idea of capital punishment; something we definitely didn’t expect. Dr. Fine started off our rainy day explaining to us how the center was used as a fighting ‘arena’ whereas the surrounding seating was based off class.

Before we knew it we were opening our “confidential envelopes” that we were told to keep shut until the day of the lecture. In the envelope was a number of documents on the topic of capital punishment in the United States and to my surprise, the abolishment of capital punishment in Illinois; my home state. There was a really interesting article explaining how the Colosseum is lit up with a gold light with a thumbs up projected on it every time anywhere in the world abolishes capital punishment.

For 24 hours, the Colosseum stays lit as hundreds of Italians come to applaud the recent change in the world. Dr. Fine proceeded to tell us about how the gold light was in representation of the prisoners who were covered in tar, placed along the tops of the Colosseum and set ablaze (giving off a gold hue) in the past. When the Colosseum is lit today, it is a remembrance of what terrible things went on in this historic place, and a sign of appreciation and celebration that these atrocities are being put to an end across the world. Soon we moved to talk about how it relates to the field of education (as we did with every lesson).

The idea of singling out students and putting them on the spot (as they did with the prisoners in the Colosseum), was our main focus. It was amazing to see how thousands of years of history relates to our school systems in the United States even today; I’ve never had a more eye-opening experience.

Every day I fall in love with Rome more and more, and every day I learn something new about myself and what it means to be not just a good teacher, but a caring teacher as well. The sites I have visited this week will always be in the back of my mind as I ponder how I treat my students, and observe how they treat one another. Through these classes I have not only been challenged on my personal views, but also challenged on my views of what it means to be a successful future teacher. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the weeks ahead! Addio!

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