Meredith College hosted a reception for the Friends of Sansepolcro and tour participants on Monday, October 19, 2015, at the home of Ellen and Larry Goode.
More than 100 participants reconnected with friends and fellow travelers and celebrated the unique experience that Sansepolcro gives Meredith students.
President Jo Allen spoke to the group about her time spent with students studying in Palazzo Alberti, the renovated 16th-century palace that Meredith established as a home base in 2009 after enjoying a 20-year relationship with the city.
“It was so wonderful to see them on our trip and observe their self-confidence. In spite of having been in Italy less than a week, they already seemed so comfortable in their new city, learning in a different environment, making friends, and venturing out to learn about the culture and the city,” said Allen. “We are very fortunate to have this program and we have truly found a home in Sansepolcro.”
During their semester abroad, students immerse themselves in a rigorous academic program, which focuses on Italian language and culture. In addition to other courses, all students take one year’s worth of Italian courses over the span of the semester, and put what they learn in the classroom to use immediately in the community through service-learning in local schools.
Brooke Shurer, director of international programs, says that students return from their Sansepolcro experience as strong, self-assured women.
“It is a priceless gift. A gift of growth and transformation,” says Shurer. “We appreciate the support of this program from the Friends of Sansepolcro.”
Ashley Scarborough, ’17, traveled to Sansepolcro a year ago and says her experiences will be with her forever. She learned so much inside the classroom, but her experience teaching second graders once a week at a local school gave her a sense of community while she was there.
“Family is not about who you share genetic makeup with, it is about who is important to you. These students were just that for me while I was in Sansepolcro,” said Scarborough. “I could not have been more proud of them when on, our last day together, they read an entire book in English to demonstrate how far they had come.”
Scarborough says after transitioning back home from her trip she found that she was more outgoing, adventurous, and spontaneous than before her trip. This opportunity in Italy allowed her to figure out things on her own and manage as they happened, such as navigating the train system, which can be a challenge at times. Having the opportunity to explore was priceless.
“I cannot imagine a better way to spend part of my college experience. The relationships and connections I have as a result of my experience are what seem to me to be the greatest gift of all,” says Scarborough.
—Submitted by Emily Parker, Campaign Communications Manager