NDC Embarks on Educational Adventure

In John and Chris Barni’s marriage, John, a marketing manager for a manufacturer of CT scanners, had always been the one to travel the globe, while his wife stayed home to take care of their 10 children.

“My husband would go all over the world for business. I’ve always sat at home,” says Chris, who lives in Gates Mills, Ohio.

So, six years ago, with her kids grown up, Chris decided it was her turn to see the world. For the first time in her life she would travel abroad, while her husband stayed back. In 2004, Chris, a graduate of the class of 1963, visited Italy and Switzerland on Notre Dame College’s annual spring break trip.

Since then, Chris has been on every single trip organized by the College. Her journeys have taken her to Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Greece, Spain, the United Kingdom, and even China. Her husband has joined her on all of those trips following her initial solo journey abroad. Together, they plan to discover yet another country in 2011, when they will travel with fellow alumni, students, faculty and friends of the College to Israel.

Roslyn Scheer-McLeodFrom Feb. 23 to March 4, the group will explore the Holy Land from the lowest point on Earth at the Dead Sea to the lofty heights of Jerusalem. Presented by the College’s Abrahamic Center and Campus Ministry, the travelers will walk in the footsteps of Jesus, as they visit Bethlehem, Nazareth, the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee. They will experience ancient and modern Israel, as they will sleep in a Bedouin tent and enjoy the nonstop nightlife of Tel Aviv.

“There’s a real sense of adventure here,” says Associate Professor of Health Science and Psychology Roslyn Scheer-McLeod, who has organized Notre Dame’s educational travels for 15 years. “But there will also be spiritual engagement and time for reflection and prayer.”

This spirituality is what sets the upcoming trip apart from past ones, as the travelers will explore the origins of the three great Monotheistic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

“To be physically in the same place where Jesus walked, nothing compares to it,” Director of Campus Ministry Anthony Camino says. “I think the stories of the Bible will come alive for me.”

The experience is organized by Scheer-McLeod and Professor Mike Bloom, the director of the Abrahamic Center, who will teach a related course leading up to the trip for which students will receive academic credit.

“I remember the first time I touched the Western Wall,” Bloom says. “You can’t fully understand the Torah and biblical text until you have experienced it.”

The Western WallFor Bloom, the trip is a chance to experience dialogue between different religions.

“You look at your own religion through somebody else’s lenses,” he says. “This is what the Abrahamic Center is trying to do.”

“As a Catholic, I don’t think we appreciate the connection to Judaism enough,” Camino says.

“This works both ways,” says Bloom, who hopes followers of all three faiths will join the College on the trip and get a deeper appreciation for both their own and other religions.

Chris Barni is sure the journey will leave a lasting impression on her.

“All the places I went to I’ve never been to before. Every time it’s an experience,” says Barni, who has never traveled abroad on a trip not organized by Scheer-McLeod.

“She watches over us and takes such good care of us,” Barni says, “whether it’s looking for an ATM machine in Athens or finding a bathroom in London.”

Barni recalls this year’s trip to the UK when the group was stuck in the Newark airport for 33 hours after a snow storm hit New Jersey. Scheer-McLeod made sure the travelers received meal vouchers and new boarding passes, and stayed fairly comfortable hunkered down in the airport terminal.

“When we travel, even the first timers, we all travel as a family. Everybody watches out for everyone,” Barni says. “Part of it is Roz, part of it are the couples who have been on trips before.”

Among those couples are Ed and Audrey Kancler who have been on four of the past five trips.

“We couldn’t accomplish traveling on our own, what we do with the group,” Ed says. Each year, the travelers visit an incredible number of sights. “At the same time, on every trip we have plenty of free time on our own.”

Kancler recalls a typical day during this year’s trip to the UK, where some people followed up a visit to Edinburgh Castle with a shopping tour while others had a pint at the local pub.   

What Kancler enjoys most is meeting the locals and understanding the culture. It’s a big reason why he and his wife will visit Israel next year.

The Dome of the Rock“That part of the world  has so much history that relates not just to our upbringing, but to what is going on in the world today,” he says. “I look forward to getting a first-hand view of what the people are like.”

Barni says the spring trips are always educational as Scheer-McLeod hires excellent tour guides.

 “To see the sights is one thing,” she says. “But when you learn about their history you have so much more appreciation for it.”

The tour guides and accommodations are provided by the Boston-based educational travel organization ACIS. The College has worked with ACIS on every trip since 1996.

Scheer-McLeod says the tour guides in Israel will be knowledgeable in all three faiths. In addition to the guides’ expertise, the travelers will receive many exceptional services for their money, which amounts to $2,846 for full-time Notre Dame College students, $3,221 for NDC employees, and $3,775 for alumni and friends. Prices might vary after June 30.

The fees include:

  • 4-star hotels
  • all breakfasts and dinners
  • direct flights to and from Israel on Continental Airlines (through Newark)
  • all transportation within Israel
  • all transfers to hotels
  • services of bilingual touring bus driver and tour manager
  • entrance fees to sites listed on itinerary

“The pricing is very reasonable,” Kancler says. “Having breakfast and dinner ready for you every day takes a big load off.”

For Barni, the educational benefits and the adventure are priceless. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity she plans to repeat every year.

“I went to the post office just this morning and dropped off the first payment,” she says. “As long as I can do this, I will go.”

For a detailed itinerary and more information, visit

By Christian Taske ’07, editor and writer at Notre Dame College.


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