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Council Rock students get a taste of other cultures


Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify that the World Wandererz Club is not a Council Rock School District club.

Two Council Rock High School South culinary arts teachers are helping students of all ages explore their two passions — travel and food.

Gema Cuffari and Melissa Jacobs founded the World Wandererz Club to be a community of students and lifelong learners. The club is not afflilated with, or sanctioned by, the Council Rock School District.

"We had the privilege of leading a group of enthusiastic high school students, parents, and community members on a tour of Japan this past summer,” they said. “In the summer of 2024, we are hosting a Culinary Tour of Italy."

They’re eyeing Portugal and Spain in 2025.

Cuffari and Jacobs characterized the trips as “immersive experiences that delve into the heart of each destination's culinary heritage.”

They explore local markets and learn traditional cooking techniques in classes taught by local chefs.

“Our travelers gain a deep understanding of the cultural significance of food in different societies," the teachers said, adding the “transformative” journeys teach students to value diversity and cross-cultural connections.

Cuffari and Jacobs emphasized that the core mission of the World Wandererz Travel Club is to go beyond what is taught in the classroom, to not only learn about international cuisine but actually go to its place of origin and get a first-hand look at the food of the world.

"I originally signed up because my friends were going and I love Sushi and Ramen,” said Clare Morgan, a student at South. “I loved walking around the busy streets of Shibuya Tokyo. I saw how cultures are more than just how people dress and what people eat. It is also about how people treat each other and their values in society. I learned how to speak a little Japanese, but more importantly, I learned about myself and how I love traveling and seeing the world."

Council Rock South student Ella Smith said she learned about Japanese culture just by walking around.

“I realized how aware you have to be at all times of what you’re doing in order to be respectful of these cultures,” she said. “Through this experience, I learned how much I genuinely love traveling."

Smith's mother, Beth, said the trip “strengthened the independence that I knew my daughter already had. I could see that she grew more comfortable with the idea of doing things by herself."

Lisa Viviano, a chaperone on the trip to Japan, also spoke highly of the experience. "I especially enjoyed the traditional tea ceremony, meditating in the temple with a Buddhist monk, and learning how to work with gold foil to embellish my own chopsticks."

When asked if she'd take similar trips in the future, Viviano said, "Absolutely! Any travel that helps broaden our scope and understanding of ourselves and other cultures is enriching. The trip to Japan was flawless, it was truly a trip of a lifetime."

World Wandererz currently has just a handful of spots remaining on its 2024 Tour of Italy. The trip will take place July 1-10. The group will explore the cuisine of Rome, Capua, Benevento, Matera, Bari, Ostuni, Polignano a Mare, and Alberobello.

To learn more about World Wandererz and sign up for its Italy trip, visit

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