Romers go through ‘Italian immersion’

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Claire Ballor, Contributing Writer

Taking a break from far-flung travels, the fall 2012 Rome class had the opportunity last week to participate in some genuinely European activities closer to their campus home, among them the grape harvest of the vineyard on campus.

Ben Gibbs, Garrett Gustafson and Mark Gigante take time to enjoy the fruits of their labor during the grape harvest.

As students stood among professors and peers, picking the grapes – and occasionally throwing a few at the backs of unsuspecting friends – from the vineyard of an Italian villa on a rolling hillside overlooking Rome and the Mediterranean Sea, they frequently marveled at the reality of what they were part of. This unique experience allowed Romers to be a part of the Italian culture in a way that they never would have been able to otherwise.

Aside from harvesting grapes, students have also had the opportunity to share in other local experiences, such as volunteering for an English tutoring program that aims to help Italian elementary school students with their English. While the purpose of the program is to teach young Italians about the English language and culture, University of Dallas students are often taught just as much, if not more, about the Italian language and culture. This opportunity allows students to absorb the Italian culture from Italians who have not yet been exposed to any way of life other than the one they are living.

Rebecca Espinosa, a current sophomore and participant in the volunteer program, chose to get involved to prepare for a possible future career teaching English and to see Italian life from a different perspective.

“This experience really helps you understand their way of life,” Espinosa said. “You get to see a raw side of the Italian culture through these kids, and you really come to understand the ways of the Italians through them. They don’t hold anything back, and they are so willing to learn and to share what they know.”

These volunteers have experienced a unique aspect of the Rome semester. As students at the Due Santi campus, they have not only been given the opportunity to live in Italy and call it home, but they have been given countless opportunities to immerse themselves in this new world. The Rome class is very thankful for these opportunities and they look forward to further immersing themselves in the Italian culture as they continue their studies.

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