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WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

Italy field trip deemed major success despite a few unwanted guests

Photo provided by: Betsy Murphy
Students and chaperones posing for a picture in Sorrento.

Westford Academy hosted an international field trip from April 10-20 to Italy where students and chaperones spent ten days exploring multiple areas of the country. However, only a day into the trip, they were faced with a bed bug infestation.

On Wednesday April 10, 104 students and chaperones boarded an airplane for their flight, arriving in Milan on Thursday. The day was spent touring the city before traveling that evening to Lake Como for more sightseeing. 

The bed bugs were discovered Friday evening by students on one of the two buses traveling from Lake Como to Venice. With several hours of the bus ride remaining, many of the passengers were forced to stand during the drive to avoid contact with the bugs. 

“There were people who coped differently with the information,” chaperone and Spanish teacher Julie Bostrom said. “There were people whose first reaction was to get upset and there were people who just had to make light of the situation. Thinking back, I think they were all just different coping strategies.”

Upon arrival in Venice, the touring company hired by Westford Academy, EF Educational Tours, fumigated the bus while students were touring in the city. Although the ideal solution was to get a new bus altogether, contacting a bus company to obtain one was very difficult given that it was a weekend and many of the main offices were not open.

Having to rework hotel room assignments was another conflict that the chaperones had to face. In order to prevent any spreading of the bed bugs, the students from the infected bus had to stay in separate hotel rooms from students on the other bus. Some room assignments had previously contained a mix of people from both buses.

“It was just a lot of chaos because we had to stay up all night [at the hotel] sorting through our stuff, making sure there weren’t any [bugs],” junior Caroline Callaghan said. “We couldn’t sit on our beds until we showered and it was all just really tiring.”

The students had a new bus for one day before the bus with the bed bugs was returned back to them. Although the bus had supposedly been fumigated, it was not long into their drive to Florence before students and chaperones realized that the bugs were still crawling around.

After arriving in Florence, all of the students on the bus with the infestation were instructed to put their belongings, such as backpacks, clothes, and their carry-ons, into plastic bags. While students were out enjoying the landmarks and cuisine of the city, three of the chaperones spent the entire day at a laundromat putting the contents from the plastic bags into high-powered dryers in an attempt to kill the bugs with heat.

Many chaperones also took the initiative to buy supplies for students in an attempt to resolve the situation. With the school offering reimbursement, one chaperone went out and bought 42 new backpacks for students to use. Other chaperones also bought supplies such as water.

Students carrying the plastic bags containing their belongings. (Photo provided by Julie Bostrom)

By the time they had to leave Florence, the students and chaperones were given a new bus for the rest of the trip. There were no more bed bugs directly crawling around the new bus, but many students were still paranoid that the bugs had ended up in their luggage.

Several parents of the students also took precautions after the trip to ensure that no insects made their way back into their homes.

“My parents brought clothes for me to change into at the school and I had to leave all my stuff outside,” sophomore Jillian Keith said. “My parents bought some spray that kills [bed bugs] and sprayed my makeup, my cosmetics, all of my belongings. They also took my clothes to a laundromat and washed them three times.”

Despite the many steps necessary to solve the problem, the bed bug issue was eventually contained and the trip to Italy was a major success. The attendees of the field trip had the opportunity to visit famous landmarks and sightsee many attractions in cities all over Italy, including Milan, Lake Como, Venice, Florence, Sorrento, and Rome. 

“The chaperones and teachers were so nice and helpful,” Keith said. “They were also extremely understanding of our problems, needs, and complaints.”

Additionally, the field trip to Italy provided some students with a first-time experience of traveling overseas. Traveling internationally, especially to another continent, is a complicated process, and is therefore considered to be a luxury by many families.

“My first experience traveling overseas [was] amazing,” sophomore Catherine Sperry said. “The chaperones worked hard to make sure traveling went smoothly, and with the sheer amount of kids that were on the trip, I think it went really well.”

The weather was also consistently good and students were able to participate in fun activities such as swimming in Lake Sorrento and seeing historical sites such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. After ending the trip in Rome, students and chaperones ultimately went home with many fun memories.

A group of students and chaperones posing in Rome. (Photo provided by Betsy Murphy)

“We [saw] great museums, we had fun dinners, we had music,” Dean Betsy Murphy said. “EF Educational Tours also tried to do some things to make up for the fact that things had been a little bit rocky. They added an accordion player to one of the dinners and a half hour dance with [dances] like the Macarena.”

Many students and chaperones agree that although the bed bug incident created some complications, it certainly did not ruin the trip. Everyone worked together to overcome the situation and still got to enjoy the experience of traveling to a foreign country, which was a privilege in and of itself. 

“There’s something that will always happen on any trip at all, and if you don’t plan future ones because of that one thing, then you’re never going to go anywhere,” Bostrom said. “There’s always the chance that something uncomfortable is going to happen and being able to overcome it is a really important […] life lesson.”

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About the Contributor
Natalie Bearfield
Natalie Bearfield, Staff Writer
Hello! My name is Natalie Bearfield and I am a staff writer for the WA Ghostwriter. This is my first year in journalism and I’m looking forward to writing articles and interviewing people for our school newspaper. Along with writing, I enjoy listening to music, reading, and spending time with my friends and family. 

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