We have amazing staff all over the world who work hard to make sure each student has an incredible experience. Our Resident Director in Rome, Rosanna Graziani, has been working with us for almost 20 years and we asked her a few questions about her own study abroad experience and what she loves about working in international education.
Where did you study abroad?
I studied abroad several times for periods of different lenghts in the UK, France and Spain. My first experience was in London, I was 16 years old and had not travelled anywhere without my family before.
That summer provided me with the most empowering and life changing experience of my adult life. I was the single child of two teachers, having grown up in a small town in the mountains with a very traditional education. Studying abroad in London was the trigger of a never ending appetite for new challenges, ideas, comparisons. The taste of freedom, first of all. The excitement of making new friendships, discovering different ways of living, eating, dressing and being able to go back home and bring all this richness with me!
Why is international education important to you?
Language is the key to understand a culture. Learning a second language means acquiring a second way of thinking, a second way of living. Words shape reality, it is only when we are able to name feelings, objects, impressions that we know them.
How can you translate the Italian “bella figura” without acquiring an understanding of the Italian obsessions and idiosyncacies for appereance and form. And how could one live, do business, socialize successfully in Italy without being familiar with these words and concepts?
What is the best story you’ve heard from a return student?
The best story I have to share is about an Italian family that was looking for an American student to tutor their daughter – a teenager doing poorly in school, specifically Englishl. It’s an Italian family with strong Catholic, conservative values. I asked around and posted a note on the bulletin board and the only student interested was a tall, big guy, with tatoos and piercings like a rock star. I deemed the match impossible and told them both no. But the family insisted and the student was so eager to take advantage of the opportunity, that I gave up, introduced them to each other and let things go. I went on vacation, and just before leaving my student tells me that he’s going on vacation with the family for a month in southern Italy. I had nightmares the entire summer and felt responsible for all sorts of threats for the little fragile naive teenage girl. Until the fall semester started and I discovered that the big American guy and the little teenager with her Italian family have had a great summer together. The girl retook and succesfully passed her English exams, her schoolmates stopped mocking her and a long lasting friendship was born and still continues via skype.
What about Italy do you try to impart to your students?
Students in our program learn to appreciate and include beauty in their everyday life. They get used to the incomparable pleasure of living among masterpieces of art and architecture that time has gently harmonized, layer over layer, century after century.
They learn that it is possible to reach a destination walking through many different paths, and they also learn that sometimes it is not a waste of time to stop, and change direction, and look up. As by doing so they discover new jewels, new perspectives on landscapes or skylines and see the same city under a different hue, or a different perspective.