Meredith Faculty/Staff Members Experience Sansepolcro

The spring 2023 Faculty/Staff Getaway to Sansepolcro, Italy, allowed employees to travel together and experience first-hand why Meredith College has chosen to base its Italian study abroad programs in the area for decades.

A group of 11, including faculty/staff and their guests, participated in the second getaway program of the 2022-23 academic year. They represent departments including admissions, art, education, health, exercise and sport sciences, and political science. The group visited Sansepolcro and surrounding areas from May 29-June 5, accompanied by Professor Emerita Catherine Rodgers and other team members from the Office of International Programs (OIP), which coordinates the getaway program. 

Participants were able to bring along a family member or friend. The program costs employees a nominal fee of $600 per person plus the cost of airfare. Accommodations are provided at the Palazzo Alberti, Meredith’s Italian home. 

The goals of this trip include helping employees make connections with each other while learning more about the Meredith in Italy programs. 

Becky Bailey, former dean of Meredith’s School of the Arts and an experienced traveler, was one of the leaders who helped participants make the most of the faculty/staff getaway. Bailey said building connections between employees who may not work together is a major benefit of the program.

“It was such a pleasure to meet people who work in other areas of campus and really get to know them,” Bailey said. “There is nothing like being together for a week in lovely places and over leisurely meals to jump-start relationships! That sort of time is rare in our daily lives.”

Associate Professor of Political Science Whitney Ross Manzo, who wanted to participate to learn more about the Meredith in Italy programs, agreed with Bailey.

“I went on the trip to learn more about Meredith’s home in Sansepolcro, but I came away with much more than that. I met a lot of people from other departments across campus who I have never interacted with, and it was so lovely to get to know them,” said Manzo. “This trip was a great bonding experience, and I know that some of the people I met will be friends of mine for a long time.”

Spring 2023 faculty staff members smile in the courtyard of an old church.Destiny Eudy, ’22, the School of Business administrative assistant, appreciated the opportunity to get a taste of the study abroad experience.

“I loved exploring the different cities and trying new foods, and the small-town vibe of Sansepolcro made my first time traveling abroad feel not so daunting. It was an even more special experience participating as an alum who didn’t get this experience as a student because of COVID,” Eudy said. “I met so many new people from many different departments around campus that I may have never met if not for this trip, and made connections that I will cherish forever! I am so glad that I took this opportunity.”

Exploring Abroad with Experienced Leaders

The getaway opportunity is a good way for employees with limited travel experience to get to see more of the world.

“I had never traveled abroad before and the ability to do so with seasoned faculty members appealed to me. I am very appreciative of this opportunity. This experience was life-changing for me,” said Deb Laube, administrative assistant in the Department of Art. “As a farmer’s daughter, we never traveled very far from the farm and as an adult, I traveled from my parents’ home to mine and little else. While the logistics of getting from A to B were at times less than enjoyable, what was waiting for me when I arrived was amazing. I am excited to travel more and see what else the world can show me.” 

Donna Kocur, education field experiences coordinator, was also reassured by having support while traveling abroad.

“I was excited to be able to go with a group of faculty and staff. I do not have much travel experience, so I felt comfortable knowing I would have a group of colleagues traveling with me and group leaders with extensive travel experience,” she said. “The timing was perfect because my daughter just graduated from high school, so this trip was a way to celebrate and enjoy time together before she leaves for college.”

Understanding Meredith’s Special Relationship with Sansepolcro

Seeing Sansepolcro and the Palazzo Alberti for herself helped Mattie Hawkins, administrative assistant for the School of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, understand why it is home to the Meredith in Italy program.Spring 2023 faculty staff members smile from the top of the art museum in Sansepolcro.

“I always wondered why Meredith chose Sansepolcro as a base location versus the larger and better-known cities.  Being there, I don’t think that Meredith could have chosen a more perfect location,” Hawkins said.  “Its small size allows students to more quickly and easily immerse themselves in the culture and community without feeling overwhelmed, and its size is more conducive to studying rather than being overwhelmed by outside distractions. Everything one needs is within a short walking distance from the centrally located Palazzo Alberti: arts, theatre, shopping, transportation, and restaurants. The perfect little niche.”

The leadership of the OIP team helped Hawkins feel confident in traveling.  “They made sure each of us had a memorable experience from start to finish; they immersed us in the culture and history of the area and Italy in general,” Hawkins said. “The planned tours were all very interesting and educational; they showed us how to use public transportation to go anywhere in the country; but most of all, they gave us the training to become comfortable in traveling abroad.”

Hawkins traveled with her husband and they stayed in Italy after the getaway to do additional independent travel.  “[Becky Bailey’s] crash course in Medieval and Renaissance art, that’s such a big part of Italy, enhanced our art experience immeasurably.  Because of her teaching, we could better understand the multitude of art and art styles in Sansepolcro, Florence, and especially at the Vatican,” Hawkins said.

All of the participants encouraged other faculty/staff to consider applying for the next faculty/staff getaway. At this time, the OIP plans to offer the next series of Faculty/Staff Italian Getaways in December 2024 and May 2025. Applications for these programs will be launched at the beginning of the 2024 academic year.  

Melyssa Allen

News Director
316 Johnson Hall
(919) 760-8087
Fax: (919) 760-8330