1st day of classes!

I had to add another post even though I just did one. Today was our first day of classes other than Italian (although of course we still had Italian), but I had photography and Perugia Practicum for the first time also.

Photography was a good class… we learned basics about our camera which was helpful because I clearly had no idea what any of it meant, and now I do. There are, though, extensive writing and research assignments in addition to our photography projects.

Then… the best part! I was a bit disappointed that I had an evening class on Mondays and Wednesdays because I’ve never had that before… but fortunately, when I got to the class, I was pleasantly surprised. The class is called Perugia Practicum, and the professors are wonderful (there’s two). The class is capped at nine students, and for good reason. I was under the impression that Perugia Practicum was hands-on… a history of Perugia, go on little tours, type class. Well, I was partially right. Actually, the class is a service learning class. This is a first for Umbra– a new class, and the students selected for it (based on GPA and our essays of intent– I had no idea about any of this when I signed up for it) are to be assigned to a Perugian company to work for (without pay). The companies are Il Comune di Perugia, which is an international relations company and ancient Perugian establishment who is trying to develop an image of Perugia within Umbria, highlighting regional products and culture, and the research is to be designed and published on their website in English, instead of a strict translation of their very basic Italian website. The next company is The Ranieri Foundation, which is a family-owned library-museum with historic literature and archives unique to Perugia… we’re talking ancient documents! It is going to open to the public soon, and they are trying to develop a website also in English that emphasizes the history of the family that owns the library, which requires an extensive knowledge of the region and city. The final company (!!!) is Perugina, the company known for Baci… the original Hershey’s kiss. This year is their 100th anniversary and the students that work for them will also be creating a English website that is not going to be a strict translation of the Italian one, but rather a website that explains the history of Perugina in the context of Perugia.

So, this may sound a bit boring… but all of that will actually be done OUT of class. In class, we will take many field trips in and around Perugia so that we may better understand the history and culture of where we are and who we are helping. While working in tandem with these people, we have many opportunities– first of all, we will be working one on one with Italian people of Perugia which will greatly enhance our Italian-speaking skills. Secondly, we are literally being entrusted with these establishments’ delicate cultures to share them with the world, outside of a language and culture that they know. Third, our class activities involve fieldtrips to Montefalco and Deruta, fixing and eating supper with two Umbrian families and sharing in their private cultures and traditions, individually following an Italian college student for a day to their classes to learn what their schooling is like, as well as help them with their English while they help us with our Italian. We also get to attend wine tastings, evaluate some of the rarest and most expensive truffles of Italy, and just generally have a very special opportunity to be immersed in Perugian, Umbrian, and Italian culture that other classes simply do not offer because this is sort of an experimental class that they basically hand-picked a few students for. I am incredibly excited about this!!!

Anyway. I’m going to do some homework… but for all of you family and friends that are keeping up, I’m happy and safe. And, if you want to send me presents…

Natalie Stephens
c/o The Umbra Institute
Via dei Priori 84
Perugia, Italy 06123


Love you all!


1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Martha Stephens said,

    Hi Natalie–it sounds like you are having a wonderful time. G-pa and I are jealous. WE hope you are gettin used to being cooler than at home. Are you getting any voice lessons at this time?

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