The SHC Italy Center recognizes that most students need a full year of foreign language classes as part of their college or university’s core requirements. In response, the Italy Center allows students to acquire six credits of Italian language in a one-semester intensive program. The Italy Center not only offers instruction ranging from beginner to advanced levels but also takes advantage of our residence hall community which is home to 100 Italian college students representing all regions of Italy. Professor Lorenza Fabretti notes, “having taught Italian to American students in Rome, I can honestly say that our students walk away having gained a much higher level of the language in part due to the fact that they live with Italians, we are thankful that our program is not an American ghetto.” Italy Center students have the opportunity to use their Italian language over a meal in the mensa (i.e. cafeteria), a game of foosball in the recreation room, or most often in the hallways during the midnight hour when many of our students are completing their homework assignments for the following day. As an intensive language program, depending on the week, students are in class for four to six hours. In short, there is a great deal of homework and fieldwork in the city encountering the local culture.
Italian courses are not simply in the classroom. Our courses have a required “Cultural Credit” component built-in. In order for students to receive full credit, they must go outside the classroom walls and interact with Italians. In this way, students are getting to know their home city of Bologna in a more direct way. Examples of the Cultural Credits activities include visiting museums in Bologna, researching historic monuments, interviewing Italian students living in various academic departments, and completing a travel portfolio.
In addition to Cultural Credits, throughout the semester, there are “Cultural Fridays”. Cultural Fridays consist of nontraditional classroom topics most often focusing on human rights issues that are impacting Italy. One recent Cultural Friday (pictured below) focused on the horrific journey of two teenage migrants who crossed the Sahara desert, were then enslaved in Libya and eventually survived the crossing of the Mediterranean in hopes of a better life in Italy. These migrants, along with our students had one thing in common that both Africans and Americans all are all studying to learn the Italian language. This common ground offered a morning of awareness-raising as to the migrant crisis that has been challenging Europe for the past decade.
Cultural Fridays events help our students to engage in a way that allows them to understand and connect with their surroundings on a deeper level. Overall, we are proud of the Italian language courses we offer which assist students not simply while living in Italy, but when reflecting on the value of their experience as well.
USF student, Thúy with University of Bologna student Dario Cannata after completing an interview for her Italian 101 course.
(L-R) SHC student Layne, Rockhurst student Kathleen and LMU student Ella talking with Aliou, migrant from Senegal, on their Cultural Friday.
(L-R) SLU student Liam, Regis student Andrew and Xavier student Link pictured in front of the Fountain of Neptune while completing their Cultural Credits.