Social studies teacher Tony Ricciuto spent two weeks studying and sight-seeing in Turkey this summer as part of an exclusive, all-expenses paid international tour of the country.
As one of three area educators selected by the Dayton Council on World Affairs to take part in the two-week cultural study, Ricciuto joined about 30 other teachers from across the United States who spent June 29 through July 12 immersed in Turkish architecture, history, art, education and faith life.
“I wanted to experience what it is like going to an Islamic country,” Ricciuto said. The trip, funded by a grant from the Turkish Cultural Foundation, is meant to educate teachers about the contributions of Turkish culture.
Turkey is considered an emerging leader in the global economy and is a strong ally of the United States. While it is one of the few secular states in the Muslim world, the country – which is situated northeast of Syria and Iraq – has a population consisting nearly entirely of Islamic people (99.8 percent, according to www.cia.gov).
On their journey, study participants visited landmarks including the Temple of Artemis and the ancient city of Troy; attended presentations by non-governmental organizations; and made several stops at rural and urban schools around Istanbul.
“To have that type of experience and to be able to bring that back and relay it to our students is far different than having them read about it in a book,” Ricciuto said.
Although it wasn’t his first cultural study abroad, Ricciuto said this new experience affords him fresh perspectives on teaching CJ students enrolled in U.S. Government, European History and World Cultures courses. In recent years, he has also traveled to meet Holocaust survivors in Poland, attend teacher conferences in Beijing, and visit France, Germany and the United Kingdom as a chaperone on student trips.
In the fall, Tony will begin his 21st year in the social studies department at CJ. He has taught for 32 years, 27 of which have been served at Catholic institutions.