Italy Center http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter A Different Take on Study Abroad in Italy Wed, 28 Jan 2015 23:44:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 My Bologna http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2015/01/20/my-bologna/ http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2015/01/20/my-bologna/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 16:29:58 +0000 http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/?p=918

 

Abigail Peters is double majoring in Peace and Justice and Politics at Denver’s Regis University. The feature story below captures her perspectives on life in Bologna.

 

I come from a city where community is important, hospitality is warmly given, and friends are easily made. In choosing to study abroad, [...]]]> Abigail

 

Abigail Peters is double majoring in Peace and Justice and Politics at Denver’s Regis University. The feature story below captures her perspectives on life in Bologna.

 

I come from a city where community is important, hospitality is warmly given, and friends are easily made. In choosing to study abroad, I was somewhat apprehensive about finding a place that would feel like home. Bologna, Italy turned out to be exactly the type of place where I felt welcomed and at ease during my time away from the comfort of my American lifestyle.

Bologna is a city of authenticity. If you want to become completely immersed in Italian cuisine, language, and lifestyle then you are looking in the right direction. This magnificent city has not only provided me with the skills I need to function in Italian society, but it also has given me the priceless gift of acceptance into the local community. While strolling along the narrow streets in the city center I find myself constantly running into friends I have made during my time here. And yes, these friends are Italian and prefer to speak their native tongue, so I am using the Italian language daily.

These friends I have made are among the many students attending the oldest European school, the University of Bologna. Each day, and night, you can find hundreds of students crowded in the piazzas celebrating the passing of a literature exam, laughing and talking over each other during a coffee break, or even protesting an unjust global issue. During the weekends, a huge open market springs up in the square and thousands of people are buying African art, Italian loafers, and bouquets of flowers. Bologna comes alive on Saturdays, with hoards of locals taking over the streets near Piazza Maggiore, selling chocolate, performing musical talents, blowing gigantic bubbles, and having bicycle auctions. The best part of being swept away by this crowd is that there are a limited number of tourists. Believe me, after traveling around to the beautiful, famous cities of Rome, Venice, and Cinque Terre, getting lost in the shuffle of thousands of tourists waving umbrellas in the air and wearing gaudy Hawaiian t-shirts, you will be begging for the Bolognese local community. However, I did love the ability to travel during my free weekends while I was abroad.

Bologna has an international airport that makes flying to other European countries very convenient and also has an efficient and busy train station that allowed me to travel throughout Italy. Because of Bologna’s location in Northern Italy, students here have the ability to take day trips to cities like Verona, Pisa, Florence, Milan, and Assisi. Being able to take these trips with friends during weekends was a crucial part of my study abroad experience. The people I traveled with became my great friends, and because us SHC Italy Center students are all from American Universities, our community made traditions from home come alive in Bologna. This great, intimate group of students formed a bond over the many classes we had together and trips we took for school to Croatia, Bosnia, Rome, Poland, and Puglia. Needless to say, this program has provided me with many great opportunities and equally as many friends. When choosing my study abroad program, I truly had no idea just exactly what I was getting myself into. But, I would have to say that I am genuinely content with the city with which I have called home for the past four months.

I have grown to love Italians for their zest for life and love of robust flavors of food. Bologna, this program, and my teachers and mentors have been significant factors in this outstanding, authentic oversees experience. All in all, I have obtained more than I had ever dreamed during my time in “Italia” and it will be difficult to top such a remarkable semester. One does not regret their time abroad in Bologna.

Abigail Peters
Regis University
SHC Italy Center Fall 2014

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Video “Art”ivists http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2014/06/25/video-artivists/ http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2014/06/25/video-artivists/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 11:51:14 +0000 http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/?p=817 To watch recently produced videos:

Dove Mi Trovo Bene: Explores the idea of “home” and immigration in Italy

(Il)legal Drinking: Focuses on drinking cultures in America and Italy 

Thousands of Signs: The history of street art and graffiti in Bologna

[...]]]>

Hannah Wiley (Saint Louis University) and Jose Scheuren (Spring Hill College) filming “Among the Berbers” in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains.

Focusing on Films – Introduction to Digital Video Production & Human Rights

To watch recently produced videos:

Dove Mi Trovo Bene: Explores the idea of “home” and immigration in Italy

(Il)legal Drinking: Focuses on drinking cultures in America and Italy 

Thousands of Signs: The history of street art and graffiti in Bologna

Who Dropped the Beat: The independent music scene in Bologna

Students of the Italy Center video production course (ART/CMM 253 Syllabus ) are encouraged to find innovative ways to showcase issues and to better understand the changing social fabric of the world. In Jesuit pedagogy, this might be referred to as “developing contemplatives in action.” Applying this 450 year old methodology pursued by St. Ignatius, we employ digital technology and social media as our instruments for social change.

Our film course presents students with two challenges. First, through the help provided by the professors, they learn how to operate a camera and then how to use video production software to put the film together. Second, students are also faced with the extra task of grasping the intellectual and emotional issues that surface when unpacking a society’s social ills, which they will depict in the films. Representing complex problems in a fair and well-researched video can be daunting for someone who has never held a camera. Nevertheless, our professors give the students the tools necessary to produce a short film in which they are encouraged to dig deeper and to question the world around them.

Living in a world driven by consumerism as opposed to political awareness, we may find it more difficult to develop values that are concerned about issues of justice. To put it simply, modernity has placed far too many distractions at our fingertips and the road to awareness is frequently cluttered by diversions (i.e. Twitter, What’s App, Linkedin, etc). SHC Italy Center promotes the idea of traveling in order to become more aware of social issues. For the students of ART/CMM, this means capturing unheard stories with their cameras. Leading a life focused on gaining a deep global understanding requires work—work that our students pursue in and outside the classroom.

The Italy Center argues that producing human rights focused videos while abroad has the potential to be the wakeup call that changes the course of our students’ lives, allowing them to bring light to social justice issues and to give voices to the voiceless.

 

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My Mostar http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2013/10/24/my-mostar/ http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2013/10/24/my-mostar/#comments Thu, 24 Oct 2013 17:00:07 +0000 http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/?p=694 Aida Omanovic wrote this article for the Italy Center. She kindly hosts the Italy Center students during our visit to Mostar (Bosnia-Herzegovina), which includes meetings with religious leaders and directors of various NGOs (click here to view a sample agenda of the Summer and Fall Italy Center Social Justice Tours [...]]]> Dark Tourism or Justice Education

Aida Omanovic wrote this article for the Italy Center. She kindly hosts the Italy Center students during our visit to Mostar (Bosnia-Herzegovina), which includes meetings with religious leaders and directors of various NGOs (click here to view a sample agenda of the Summer and Fall Italy Center Social Justice Tours to the Balkans). Omanovic has worked for numerous international relief organizations including the American Refugee Committee (ARC) and The International Refugee Services (IRS).  Currently, she is working with the Bosnian-Herzegovinian government in its preparations to meet the legal requirements in order to enter into the European Union.

Dark tourism or grief tourism involves traveling to sites associated with death and tragedy.  Certain settings, such as Auschwitz and Ground Zero, attract visitors seeking to understand man’s capacity for evil. My Mostar happens to be one such place included in the list of sites that represent human atrocities and genocide.

If you are a student who is seeking to understand human rights and social justice issues – welcome to the Balkans. As a native of Mostar with family ties that reach back to the 18th century, I lived my high school and college-aged years during the war, driving an ambulance without proper medical training, burying friends (27 in all) and refusing to leave.  Decades after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords that stopped the bullets, I remain in my Mostar, working for change in the place where I raised my daughter to stay rather than flee Bosnia.  I refuse to give up on the vision of a multi-ethnic city.  Nevertheless, we remain a divided city (Muslims and Catholics) with similarities to Belfast (Protestants and Catholics) and Jerusalem (Jews and Arabs). This is a brief introduction to Mostar– I would rather you visit to encounter first hand our remarkably rich history of art, music, literature, commerce and architecture and meet the strong survivors of the war.

We only have this one life and, whether you are interested in dark tourism or not, Bosnia needs to be on your list of places to see. There is no other place on Earth like the Balkans, where the people are friendly and the nature is remarkable. Although we have a great deal of beauty, we have also witnessed so much death and, as a result, we live life to its fullest.

I would be naive to imply that everything has been resolved in my country.  A silent war is still raging two decades after the US, the European Union and other groups have invested in finding a peaceful peace resolution.  Now, local politicians throw out terms, like reconciliation and human rights, which they have adopted from the various human rights conventions, laws and international pacts that were reached in order to improve the lives and conditions of the population.  These international agreements are full of language that express the importance of protecting people regardless of their skin color, language, religion beliefs. These words, however, tend to mean little, often nothing, to the ordinary person on the street in Mostar.

If you would like to know the true responsibility that one carries when participating in peace reconciliation processes or any sort of peace agreements between sides in conflict, you must visit the Balkans.  Only through human interactions can you understand what the consequences will be if negotiations lack certain parameters.  For example, the designers of the Dayton Peace Accords, which established the basis for the State Constitution, did not consult the Bosnian victims of the war, who could have provided important perspectives. For this reason, the international community is still trying to resolve the flawed agreement designed by non-Bosnians.

On the other hand, if you meet my Mostar neighbors, you can hear stories and witness how people in such a complex situation are co-habiting, acting and fighting for justice.  By coming to Bosnia, you will better understand social justice as these abstract concepts, which the international community previously defined, become tangible and visible and are not just ideas in a chapter of a textbook, but instead a reality.

In every sense of the meaning, I’ve invested 20 years in the rehabilitation of my country after the devastating 1992 – 1995 war. I devoted 15 years to the rebuilding of schools, hospitals and homes for refugees and returnees.  In recent years, I’ve tried to make my small contribution to the redevelopment of a civil society in Bosnia. I have to admit that the latter is a much more difficult and demanding job than the physical reconstruction of buildings and homes.

I’m just one person who has survived the war on the front line. Though the war is over, I continue to fight for the future because it is possible to make Bosnia better.  It is so easy to leave this country – the writers of the Dayton Accords left it in empty hands. It is not enough for war to end in the sense of shooting, bombing and killing –the war only ends when every person is respected as a human being.

I would like to end with an invitation for you to visit my Mostar and with a quotation by Bertrand Russell that best captures my sentiments about the war and peace, the past 20 years of my life and the next 20 to come:

After ages during which the earth produced harmless trilobites and butterflies, evolution progressed to the point at which it has generated Neros, Genghis Khans and Hitlers. This, however, I believe is a passing nightmare; in time the earth will become again incapable of supporting life, and peace will return.”

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Summer of Service 2014 http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2013/10/23/summer-of-service-2014/ http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2013/10/23/summer-of-service-2014/#comments Wed, 23 Oct 2013 21:13:39 +0000 http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/?p=666 Bonner students may be eligible for summer funding to participate in the Summer of Service.   Prior Bonner Scholars have acquired 200 + hour of community work while participating in the Italy Center’s summer session.

 

SUMMER 2014 PROGRAM DETAILS

 

The photo was shot [...]]]> Bologna, Bosnia, & Bonner Scholars

Bonner students may be eligible for summer funding to participate in the Summer of Service.   Prior Bonner Scholars have acquired 200 + hour of community work while participating in the Italy Center’s summer session.

 

SUMMER 2014 PROGRAM DETAILS

 

Roy Collichio (The College of New Jersey) enjoys the natural beauty of Bosnia

The photo was shot during the Italy Center’s Social Justice Tour to Bosnia. Pictured is Bonner Scholar Roy Colicchio, a Senior at The College of New Jersey. The forward thinking Bonner Foundation supports service and community-based research initiatives on 73 campuses across the United States. A number of Bonner schools have turned to the Italy Center for an overseas social justice experience for their students.  Read Roy’s perspectives on service below.

Padre Marella, a shelter I have been volunteering at here in Bologna, has offered me the amazing opportunity to meet some people with life stories almost impossible for me to comprehend. I have talked to young men who had to flee a war-torn country, forced to leave behind all families and loved ones.   Others have had to trust in luck, or fate, or God, while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea on a raft.  According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHRCR), more than 1500 refugees and asylum seekers drowned crossing the Mediterranean in 2011 alone. Still others whom I have met describe hanging onto the bottom of a freight truck overnight to cross a boarder and to reach a better life.  Thankfully, my Italian skills have improved, many refugees have a good command of the English language, and interpreters are readily available at the centers to assist.

Since my freshman year at The College of New Jersey, I have participated in the Bonner Community Scholars program, logging hundreds of hours at The Rescue Mission of Trenton, a local full-service center for homeless and addicted local residents from the impoverished Trenton community.   I’ve become comfortable with people and environments that are unfamiliar to most of my peers from the small, middle class and mostly white suburban community where I grew up.  I chose the Spring Hill College Italy Center as my study abroad destination specifically because of its social justice and service-oriented focus, and I was confident that my experience over the previous years would set me up for a fairly easy transition into the Italian non-profit charitable community.

This, in hindsight, was not only foolish but also arrogant.  When I first arrived in Italy, I didn’t know a word of Italian besides “Ciao.”  By the time I first volunteered at Padre Marella, I had probably just about quadrupled my vocabulary.  As if this wasn’t enough to make me nervous, I quickly was confronted with a volunteering culture entirely different than that with which I had become accustomed.  In America, at least at the places I have encountered, volunteering is usually a very hands-on experience, such as going to a soup kitchen and serving meals in one’s free time.   In Italy, my experience has been quite different and it’s made me reflect on the meaning of service.

The first thing that struck me was the difference in the populations served.  At home, the primary clientele for the agencies where I have volunteered typically consists of people born and raised in the local community who have fallen upon hard times often related to drug abuse, poverty, homelessness, mental illness, and criminal behavior.  In Italy, at least at the two sites whereI have volunteered, I encountered something entirely different.  Most of the people looking for help are refugees, fleeing their home countries often because of war or  political reasons, and seeking asylum in Italy.  The countries and cultures where these people come from vary greatly, and I have met refugees from Africa to Asia to Eastern Europe.  Perhaps it is this distinction that results in a different approach to service delivery.  Here in Italy, it seems that the clients often define and direct the delivery of services, asking for specific aid rather than being told to enroll in this, that, or the other class or program.

While the clients I have encountered in Italy have not, by and large, been presented with serious substance abuse or mental illness, in many basic respects the nature of the service efforts were similar whether serving the homeless in American cities or refugees in Bologna.  People need to be fed.  People need a place to sleep.  People need jobs. People need clothes.  The ways to accomplish these basic goals are generally the same, even if the geography and culture are different.  Looking back, I don’t know why I, or anyone, would be surprised by the similarities.  Basic human needs don’t change because people have different backgrounds.  A homeless man in Trenton requires many of the same things as a homeless refugee in Bologna.

My advice to anyone looking to volunteer abroad would be  to  not expect to see anything too “different.”  While you may encounter different service strategies and different cultures, the needs and the goals are, in many ways, the same. You will get to know people who have been through some unimaginably difficult experiences and who continue to struggle on a day-to-day basis for survival, and you often won’t be able to do a thing about it but sit and listen, and maybe give them a hot meal a couple of times a week.  And, just like you may have experienced while volunteering in America, the experience will leave you depressed by the state of our world, but also inspired–inspired that there are people all over the planet dedicating their lives to helping others.  Inspired that people all over the world are struggling to improve their circumstances. I’ve learned not to refer to people at these centers as people “in need.”  What do they need that you don’t?  Do you not need food and a place to sleep?  So come to Italy, learn, and do what you can to help.  But don’t hang your head when you find the same problems here as you do at home.  Don’t whine if your service site doesn’t offer you more ways to appease your conscience. Just get involved and take the opportunity to meet people, hear their stories and maybe help them in some small way to improve their circumstances. You won’t regret it.

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Language Immersion http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2013/10/23/language-immersion/ http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2013/10/23/language-immersion/#comments Wed, 23 Oct 2013 20:52:00 +0000 http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/?p=660 Lets face it, the cost of a college degree is not cheap and one’s semester abroad needs to be justified for its value added (or not) towards ones academic and career goals.   At a minimum a student should walk away from a semester abroad having met locals and having [...]]]> What Have You Learned While Abroad?

Lets face it, the cost of a college degree is not cheap and one’s semester abroad needs to be justified for its value added (or not) towards ones academic and career goals.   At a minimum a student should walk away from a semester abroad having met locals and having made progress towards language proficiency.

Cultural competency, which includes learning a foreign language, is consistently touted as a given outcome of living abroad.   To the contrary, study abroad professionals are often anguished by the fact that many students fail to meet native speakers and rarely break out of their “American Ghettos.”

The Italy Center is attempting to evaluate our students’ (non Ghetto) immersion experiences.  The research conducted by Spring Hill Language Professor Lorenza Fabretti focuses on language acquisition through our Speaking Partner program.  The program matches each U.S. American student with one, often two or three Italian college students living on our residence hall or peers who are active at the Bologna Jesuit Center where many of our classes are held.

Attempting to determine why some students learn the local language and others do not is complex.  When asked “how to speak in a different tongue?” a group of Italy Center students offered the following wisdom:

1.  Severely limit the time you spend with other American students

How? All Italy Centered students share a residence hall with 100 Italian students (plus a few Spanish, Scandinavians and Australians).  Dorm life allows for daily conversation over meals, coffee and cigarettes (yes, Europeans still smoke), and access into the Italian language immediate.

2.  Everyday go out and force yourself into a situation where you have to speak the language.

How? Bologna is squeezed between Florence and Venice but fortunately pushes away the more that 14 million tourists that those cities try to absorb each year.  As a result, Bologna is not saturated with tourists and is a welcoming city for U.S. Americans. Therefore, one has no excuse for not getting out and trying to practice Italian with other students (there are only 100,000 Italians students walking the streets).   Your professor can only do 50% of the work—it is up to you to do the rest

3.  Get involved in a project or club with Italian students.

How? The Italy Center and the Camplus Alma Mater residence hall staff collaborate to provide a broad range of activities.  American students may work as “Junior Teachers” with Italians neighbors who are learning English. Others may simply take part in the bi-weekly Speaking Partner events where we mix over food, music, and cultural events.   Informal opportunities are abundant ranging from sitting with Italians in the cafeteria to exploring the nightlife on weekends.

The philosophy, which underscores the pedagogy of the Italian Center stems from the idea that learners, can become owners of their own ability to learn. Fundamental to this concept is creating a structure that will help to develop learners’ autonomy through interaction with a more expert tutor/teacher.  This idea revolves around the notion of language autonomy and Zone of Proximal Development based on the work of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotskij

Italy Center Faculty operate from the notion that learning comes from interacting with a peer as a part of the Speaking Partner Program.  Imbedded in this structure is the fact that the student becomes both the teacher of his own language and the learner of the foreign language.

According to Vygotsky (The Cognitive Process), language learning takes shape in interaction with a more expert peer or tutor.  In essence, language learning is not solely a cognitive skill but is nurtured and develops by group interaction. Here at the Italy Center, co-curriculum opportunities are ample as students learn not only in the classroom, but also in a number of venues that include on-site classes, social and educational events with Italians living in the dormitory as well as structured travel with Italian peers – to name a few ways in which the social environment augments the classroom experience.

For more information on Professor Fabretti’s study of the Italy Center’s Speaking Partner program, she can be reached at lfabretti@shc.edu.

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Heavy Metal Islam http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2013/10/23/heavy-metal-islam/ http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2013/10/23/heavy-metal-islam/#comments Wed, 23 Oct 2013 20:14:37 +0000 http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/?p=640 Music has often been associated with evil. Legend has it that Elvis was possessed by the devil, John Lennon made a pact with Satan in exchange for fame, and Lady Gaga, who was raised Catholic, worships the devil and uses her music to brainwash the world’s youth.

This [...]]]> Not the Arab World That You Know

Music has often been associated with evil. Legend has it that Elvis was possessed by the devil, John Lennon made a pact with Satan in exchange for fame, and Lady Gaga, who was raised Catholic, worships the devil and uses her music to brainwash the world’s youth.

Marissa Kerum (University of San Francisco) hiking in a Berber Village in the Atlas Mountains

This phenomenon is also present in the Arab world, where head banging to heavy metal music was grounds for imprisonment one decade ago.  In fact, in 2003 14 young Moroccan metal heads were sent to prison for wearing “anti-Islamic” T-shirts that depicting the devil.  This incident is known in Morocco as the Moroccan satanic music festival trial and showcased the country’s ideology concerning music.

A decade later, much has changed; Moroccan King Mohammed VI continues to fund the alternative music scene supporting musicians that stand for acceptance and human rights for all in the Maghreb region (North Africa).

Italy Center film professor Reda Zine, who teaches our Human Rights Filmmaking Course and is also an accomplished jazz musician, explains,  “as teenagers in Morocco, we played heavy metal because our lives were heavy. Today in Morocco and across the Arab world, musicians, graffiti artists, filmmakers, hip hop artists, webzine makers, performance artists, and open space bloggers represent a window of promise in a difficult period.  As someone who also teaches American students for me it is critical that America’s youth meets Morocco’s passionate risk-taking youth.  This cannot be found sitting one one’s sofa watching CNN or Fox News. “

Hicham Bajjou, who is our host in Casablanca, is the creative force behind the Bob Magreb musical group that performs for the Italy Center students during the annual Spring Social Justice tour to the Maghreb. The project, which finds it home in the Boulevard Music Association, is committed to the music of legendary figure Bob Marley and integrates traditional Maghreb instruments, such as the tbel, tbilates, and bedir, into the performance of Marley’s songs.  The Bob Maghreb project has gained recognition across the Arab world and Western Europe.

Funds raised from the Italy Center and Bob Maghreb concert help support a broader Boulevard project of building of schools for the highly discriminated against Berber community. Every year, Italy Center students spend three days learning about the Berber culture in the Atlas Mountains region (see photo).  Samie Amale, our gracious hosts while in the Mountains, has received death threats for his work in building schools. He continues his work, however,hoping to offer and education to berber children.

Much like the pandemonium of Elvis, The Beatles and, in recent years, Lady Gaga, in hindsight, the Moroccan satanic music festival trial proved to be a watershed for the acceptance of alternative culture by Moroccan society

Zine, Bajjou, Amaleand others we meet in Morocco have been at the forefront of this movement for music.  These remarkable activists bring insights in Morocco that can never be taught in the confines of a classroom.

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Summer 2013 Program Announced! http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2012/09/08/summer-2013-program-announced/ http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2012/09/08/summer-2013-program-announced/#comments Sat, 08 Sep 2012 22:13:38 +0000 http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/?p=600 That’s right everyone–the summer 2013 program has been announced. We have all the details for the program here and feel free to apply when you are done reading as we are now accepting applications!

Summer 2013 Program Flyer

The summer program has undergone some changes this year as [...]]]> Summer 2013 at the Italy Center

That’s right everyone–the summer 2013 program has been announced. We have all the details for the program here and feel free to apply when you are done reading as we are now accepting applications!

Summer 2013 Program Flyer

The summer program has undergone some changes this year as part of our continued effort to create mission drive programming for our students. The program this year will be a one session program as opposed to the two separate sessions we offered last summer. This year participants will guaranteed 12 days of social justice travel to both the Balkans region (8 days) and the Italian Alps (4 days) as those costs are now folded into the overall program fees. We want to be certain that students are experiencing our social justice travel programs as part of their short summer session. Since the two trips have been folded into the summer session, it now runs approximately 6 1/2 weeks but students can still be back in the US by June 27th.

The academic options this year are similar to the ones we offered last year:

  • Art History 311: Renaissance to Modern Art
  • Italian 101: Elementary Italian (4 hrs/day)
  • Italian 381: Intermediate or Advanced Italian
  • Philosophy 214: Environmental Ethics
  • Theology 261: World Religions
  • Social Science 295: Human Rights and Global Change (service learning course; 30-100 service hrs

Again, we are now accepting applications so please apply now if you are interested! Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the program.

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In Development: Fall 2013 Opening Tour to Cyprus & Turkey http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2012/09/08/in-development-fall-2013-opening-tour-to-cyprus-turkey/ http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2012/09/08/in-development-fall-2013-opening-tour-to-cyprus-turkey/#comments Sat, 08 Sep 2012 20:46:23 +0000 http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/?p=575 The Italy Center staff is currently working on developing a new social justice tour that will run for the first time in Fall 2013: Cyprus and Turkey. Here is the mission that we have written to drive the development of the new tour:

The mission of the Italy Center in Turkey & Cyprus program is [...]]]>

A special thanks to the Republic of Turkey Ministry for Culture and Tourism for the two photos. Please visit their site at: goTurkey.com

The Italy Center staff is currently working on developing a new social justice tour that will run for the first time in Fall 2013: Cyprus and Turkey. Here is the mission that we have written to drive the development of the new tour:

The mission of the Italy Center in Turkey & Cyprus program is to introduce students to the main inter-ethnic, religious and political dynamics of the region. During the Cyprus visit students will explore conflict from the Green Line, which divides the island and is maintained by UN Peacekeepers. The tour to South Eastern Turkey will expose students to human rights and cultural projects in a region of Turkey that has been historically influenced by Iraq and Syria.
The theme of this Social Justice Tour is Peace Education, which includes discussions on conflict resolution, the role of NGO’s in peace-keeping efforts, reconciliation, and long term solutions in a region that is currently facing an influx of refugees fleeing the war in Syria.  Cyprus and Southern Turkey (which borders Syria) represent two perfect locations for a Social Justice Study Tour on Peace Education. In addition to hearing lectures on peace initiatives, students will have opportunities to experience the ancient Mediterranean cultures with Eastern Orthodox and Muslim heritages.

Will you be there?!

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Post Revolution Tunisia: Activism or Clicktavism? http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2012/09/08/post-revolution-tunisia-activism-or-clicktavism/ http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2012/09/08/post-revolution-tunisia-activism-or-clicktavism/#comments Sat, 08 Sep 2012 19:44:24 +0000 http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/?p=559 The Italy Center Spring Social Justice Tunisia Tour offers students an up close and personal account of the Arab Spring.  The initial leg of the tour includes meetings with young leaders, Tunisian academics and U.S. Diplomats including Ambassador Gordon Grey.  In this feature story Italy Center Director Todd Waller captures the sentiments shared by Tunisians [...]]]> The Italy Center Spring Social Justice Tunisia Tour offers students an up close and personal account of the Arab Spring.  The initial leg of the tour includes meetings with young leaders, Tunisian academics and U.S. Diplomats including Ambassador Gordon Grey.  In this feature story Italy Center Director Todd Waller captures the sentiments shared by Tunisians regarding the new found freedom of expression and the cyber activism.

Activism or Clicktavism ?

The Tunisian revolution began in December of 2010 when graduate student Mouhamed Bouazizi,  a 26-year old Tunisian street vendor set himself afire in protest of the confiscation of his wares and the humiliation that was inflicted on him by a municipal official. This act became the catalyst for mass demonstrations throughout Tunisia unleashing decades of pent up anger from citizens who had been living in a virtual police state.  Bouazizi’s cousin was the first to capture the image on his phone which was quickly broadcasted to the world via Facebook, twitter and other forms of social media. Mouhamed Bouazizi’s desperate act combined with the tools of instant messaging and the on-line community (thanks to hackers) launched weeks of street protests in which Tunisians peacefully fought against Dictator Ben Ali’s oppressive regime. The United Nations later reported that 300 protestors’ lives were lost, yet, young Tunisians many of whom refer to the movement as the “Facebook Revolution,” are proud of the fact that their bravery became the catalyst for movements across the Arab world.

It is without a doubt that social media played an instrumental role in bringing Tunisians into the streets which led to the fall of the Ben Ali regime.   Since January 14, 2011, the day the former Dictator fled to Saudi Arabia, many have created their own blogs and are claiming to be activists. To the general public what today’s internet does not reveal is who the true activists are and who has jumped on the clicktivists’ band wagon.  The youth on the streets of Tunis understand that there is a clear division between the clicktavists and the activists’ bloggers, the latter who put their lives on the line risking imprisonment or worse in the days leading ups to the fall of the Dictator. Afef Abrougui (University of Tunis Linguistics Major), considered by her peers to be a serious activist and blogger writing for the Global Voices campaign sat down with our Spring Hill Italy Center students to discuss the role of social media pre and post revolution.  Afef reminded the students that “yes, it is true, social media was a tool in the revolution, but we cannot forget that people died in the manifestations, people gave their lives.”  Italy Center student Colleen Curry (University of San Francisco English Major) notes “In the United States many in my generation are labeled as ‘slacktivists’ because it is easy to comment on whatever pops up on Facebook as opposed to real life activism which means turning of your laptop and becoming committed to a human rights cause.”

Featured in the photo are young activists representing three continents, left to right Martina Fabbri (University of Bologna) who works with the Rom community in Bologna, Afef Abrougui (University of Tunis) a blogger writing for Global Voices, and Colleen Curry (University of San Francisco) who worked with immigrants while studying at the Spring Hill Italy Center.

A US Embassy representative made it clear that the Tunisian youth took the greatest risks in the early days of the revolution. The youth were taken seriously during the protests but in the post revolution Tunisia it is the younger generation who appear to be left on the sidelines. Perhaps this addresses why more and more young people are trying to make their political perspectives heard via the internet and not in main stream leadership positions in local Tunisian politics.

A rather sobering theme throughout the Spring Hill Social Justice Tour to Tunisia is the fact that young leaders are not being elevated into positions of influence in local and national affairs.   A sense of a post revolution hangover is in the air as young Tunisians who were on the front lines of the cyber activism and the street protest risking and losing lives are now feeling left behind. Unlike the European nations to the north of Tunisia (45 miles from Sicily) who have had a few centuries to struggle with democracy and nearly two decades of internet freedom, both of these realities are new to Tunisia.  University of Tunis Law Professor Hamada Redissi reminded our group that in 2003 less than 1% of Tunisians were connected to the web; today those figures are approaching 40%. Yet, as a whole only 3.4% of the entire Middle East population is connected. (1)

Young Tunisians are proud of their role in hacking government systems and keeping international news websites alive in the days and weeks that led to end of Ben Ali’s 23 years of iron-fisted rule.  In efforts to recognize the activism of the young cyber revolutionaries, the Tunisian transitional government recently declared March 13 as the National Day of Internet Freedom.   The event simultaneously honors the memory of the Tunisian cyber-activist Zouhair Yahyaoui. Yahyaoui – one of Tunisia’s first vocal online political dissidents who fought against Ben Ali’s era and died in prison on March 13, 2005.

Internet Freedom Day is a nice gesture of recognition from the interim government, but many of today’s Tunisia youth want to be tomorrow leaders. A sentiment expressed by nearly all of the lecturers who presented to our group is that many of the Tunisian youth who were willing to give their lives for freedom are now being ignored.  A failure to bring young talent into leadership roles could have long term negative implications for democracy building.  For example, in some rural villages, it appears that conservative forms of Islam may be taking root.  As in all parts of the globe unemployed youth with no access to the political process are susceptible to forms of extreme religious expression.

As was evident from all who met with Italy Center students during the annual April tour, ousting a dictator was relatively easy; building a democratic nation is the messy work.

Sources
1.    Internet World Sources  found on line at www.internetworldstats.com/stats5.htm

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Summer of Service http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2012/02/03/summer-of-service/ http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/2012/02/03/summer-of-service/#comments Fri, 03 Feb 2012 15:29:10 +0000 http://kudzu.shc.edu/italycenter/?p=522 Summer Session students will have a unique opportunity to explore first-hand the environmental challenges facing the Swiss and Italian Alps region. Ken Marquardt is President of the Canova Association which is located near the town of Domodossola. Ken reflects on his vision in this feature story.

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Environmental Field Work in the Italian Alps

Summer Session students will have a unique opportunity to explore first-hand the environmental challenges facing the Swiss and Italian Alps region. Ken Marquardt is President of the Canova Association which is located near the town of Domodossola. Ken reflects on his vision in this feature story.

The European Medieval Rural Stone House
Past Misery or Future Model?

Proceedings from the 2005 World Summit indicate that sustaining the planet requires the reconciliation of environmental, social and economic demands – the “three pillars” of sustainability. In recent years others have argued that these dimensions are not enough to reflect the complexity of contemporary society and that the protection of “cultures” must be incorporated.  The work of our Canova Association, an Italy Center Summer Service Learning site, reflects these pillars and is making strides to resuscitate medieval villages once thought to be lost.

Our own nomadic lives set the backdrop for how we’ve evolved to take on this extraordinary cultural revival project – a labor of love.

Kali my wife, and I are originally for Arkansas and have been married for the past 42 years. We began our European life in 1973 at the age of 22 (I imagine today one might call it study abroad) and never looked back.  Due more to a cheap flight from Montreal for $192 than the Irish origins of Kali, we set off for Ireland and soon thereafter set up home in an ancient stone country house called Slievethoul. The place was surrounded by cairns, dolmens, barrens and castle ruins and it was there I contracted two inflictions that have followed me to this day: chilblains (i.e. frozen toes and fingers) and a feverish passion for ancient stone structures.

One evening in the Spring of ‘74 an Irish priest placed a small book into my hands written by Lanza del Vasto recounting his walking journey from Italy to India to see Ghandi.  I paged through it and the next morning we set off walking from the western-most point in Europe.

How many times across Ireland and throughout Europe we camped amidst the stone ruins of castles and farmhouses. Lying there at night we tried to imagine how many celebrations of joy and how many moments of anguish, how many births and deaths had these stone walls witnessed?  This was having a profound effect on our formulation of the concepts of  “home” and “house”, especially considering that the average lifespan of a new American house was about 35 years.

In those moments we felt blessed to have made the difficult choice to leave behind the comforts and the consumption of our American upbringing.   That was before the word “sustainable” and on this journey we began to realize how culturally important durability and craftsmanship was in the construction of shelter.

Our nomadic lives became sedentary in 1985 as we made our final descent from Simplon Pass into Domodossola on our walking adventure.  I still remember vividly seeing for the first time our soon to be home with a granite stone roof lying along a pristine rushing stream and saying “I could spend 2 lifetimes here”.

After eight months of 12 hour days we moved into the upstairs and continued to coax out the bats and barn swallows and stop the cat fights down below.  Except for two 90 year old precious stalwarts, “la Gin” and Giacoma, the 10 houses of Canova were abandoned and in ruins.  For months I worked alone, learning by doing with the helpful advice of local masons and peasants but then I hired a Calabrese master mason with whom a deep friendship and collaboration was born and which lasted through the entire restoration of the borgo (small village) of Canova.

In 2001 after bringing back to life a few old stone homes it was now time to get serious.  Seven friends founded the International Non Profit Organization “Associazione Canova / Canova Association”.  It’s not been a Jack in the Beanstalk story for which we are thankful but ten years of intense activity has established Canova as a recognized force dedicated to revitalizing European medieval rural stone architecture and all it offers to modern day life and culture.

In only a few decades the powerful magnet of the newly arrived industries in the Ossola Valley had gleaned the young work force off the ancient terraces and into the factories with promises of fashionable condominiums and an end to the misery of cold bedrooms and any hint of chimney smoke. The old stone house where generations had been born and raised had become a relic and more importantly a symbol of “miseria”, poverty …. the past.

Twenty+ years have slipped by now and Canova has become a jewel that doesn’t sparkle, it glows like fine amber, full of real people who love it.  It has become a model. Why?  Because those that have taken these houses on see themselves more as custodians or honored guests than owners.

This May 24-28, we will welcome Spring Hill Italy Center students to join us in our work as caretakers of this small slice of the Alps.

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