2020 Class of COVID-19

When I applied to be the Administrative Intern for JSB Spring 2020, all I really knew was that I would get to come back to Ariccia, a place I love with all my heart, a place that changed me as a student of the JSB Spring 2018 class. There was no way I could have prepared for what a life-changing, unique, crazy experience this would be. I could tell you all about the day trips in to Rome and how we got to experience not only the tourist side of the city, but also the off-the-beaten-path side as well. I could tell you about our overnight trip to the region of Umbria and how we got an inside look at the craftsmanship of the people of Italy and once again got to explore a historically rich area of Italy. I could tell you about the different professors and Italian men and women who came to our classroom, invested in our lives and education, and taught us things that we will remember for the rest of our lives. I could tell you about how hard Lacey works to make this the best possible experience for the students. I could tell you about how Cinzia is dedicated to her job and cares for her people so well. I could tell you about how sweet it is to hear Roberta say “Ciao bella” every morning while working hard to make sure our schedule is perfect. I could tell you about how amazing Maurizio and Franceso are and about how much they love this program, Ariccia, and us. I could tell you about how we were sent home six weeks early because of the Coronavirus and how heartbreaking that was for me, not only because I knew what we were all missing out on, but mainly because the girls did not get to complete their study abroad experience they had waited years to experience. I could also tell you about how resilient they have been in completing their study abroad education online from America. I could talk about it all for hours.

But what I want to tell you about most is the sweet memories I made with these 21 girls in the short six weeks we had together. In some ways, it felt like many months that we lived together in the Palace. But mostly, it felt like it went by way too quickly. Valentine’s Day dinner in town, sunsets on the overlook, weekend trips to new places, cooking dinner together, making tik-toks, watching the Bachelor on the projector, sitting in each other’s “nests” to talk and laugh and cry, talking about the hard stuff and sharing in the really good stuff, getting food poisoning, feeling home sickness, having anxiety attacks, laughing until we cry, squealing about a cute Italian boy who wants to take you out for gelato, getting stuck in a different country multiple times, falling in love with Italy. The list truly keeps going, but this is just a taste of the things we got to experience together. If something happened to one person, the group as a whole felt it because there is something so special about sharing this kind of experience and living in close quarters with a group of 21 girls. And these specific girls are the most caring, fiery, supportive, compassionate, strong, welcoming, and fun girls I have ever met.

We will forever be remembered as the JSB group that was sent back to America 6 weeks early due to COVID-19, and we will forever remember that short time we had together in Ariccia as a time our lives really were changed for good.

With love to Italy, Ariccia, JSB, and my Chigi babies,

Emmie Whorton