Volunteering and attending guest lectures are just some of the many opportunities our semester students who study abroad in Milan have while they are living and learning abroad. We find that it’s these culturally immersive experiences that shape our students’ time abroad, and help them to really understand what’s happening in their host country first-hand.
Beyond the Bucket-List: Student Volunteering & Community-Building Exercises with Young Refugees
Every semester, students from each of our study abroad Milan programs volunteer with organizations in Italy.
This fall, Lindsay Hexter (Emory University) and Heather Ward (Villanova University) participated in a three-day volunteer program in Siracusa, Sicily, working with young refugees who have arrived in Italy as unaccompanied minors. Lindsay and Heather engaged with the refugees in community-building exercises, such as sharing meals, leisure time, and working on a community theater project.
“Before this experience, I had a ‘media-tainted’ understanding of the refugee crisis at best,” Lindsay said. “By getting to know real people who have been affected, I was able to wash away my preconceived notions and develop my own perspective. It has been an unprecedented opportunity to reflect on my own values.”
Run by the non-profit organization Intercultural Studies Center, the volunteer program promotes awareness of one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies of our time. As a hotspot of the refugee crisis, Sicily is well-positioned to give students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about social justice, human rights, and conflict resolution.
Heather commented that this experience has given her a completely new set of tools for understanding Italy—taking her beyond the “bucket-list” of incredible food, art, and landscapes that originally brought her here. “The idea of what we should do and see is almost like a preset feature of a semester in Italy,” Heather said. “Friends and family back home ask us if we have seen Venice, Florence, Pisa, etc. Studying abroad means having opportunities to go beyond the must-see checklist and taking part of the social and political dialogues that are happening in Italy right now.”
Learning Straight from the Source: Semester-Long Speaker Series
Designed to bring learning outside of the classroom and provide additional voices and dialog around key topics, our Milan speaker series included six speakers in Fall 2016. Selected by two or more IES Abroad faculty members as part of their courses, each lecture is public and open to students and their guests. After each presentation, students enjoy snacks and more informal discussion with the speaker.
See below for a full schedule of this semester-long speaker series:
- October 14: Raffaele Mellace (IES Abroad Faculty Member) shared Italian Journey: Musical Life in Naples at the Time of Bach and Mozart
- October 18: Livio Magnini (Musician, Composer, and Producer) spoke about Analogic Native, Digital Adaptive: How to Survive the Pop Music Industry of XXI Century
- November 8: Charles Zaiontz, Ph.D. (Mathematician & Senior Business Consultant) discussed The Business of Getting Sick in America
- November 15: Emanuela Biscotti (Events Curator) shared Art Techniques and Art Workshop from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance
- November 22: Nazzareno Mazzini and Maria Sepa (IES Abroad Faculty Members) presented on Between Literature and Cinema: Anna – an episode from the Movie Ieri, Oggi e Domani
- November 29: Francesca Romana Rinaldi (Co-author of The Responsible Fashion Company) shared Managing Responsibility in Fashion: Integrating Ethics & Aesthetics in the Value Chain
Itching to study abroad in Milan? Check out all of our study abroad Milan programs!