Chris Picicci, an Italian professor who traveled with the students, said the planning for this trip started last year.
“It began in November 2008 with meetings between Katherine Frank and the foreign language coordinator, Alegria Ribadeneira. We talked about a possible study abroad program in Italy for students of Italian,” he said.
“It was actually a program that replaced Silvio Covi’s, who was the former Italian professor, his annual summer trip. Other staff members helped to make this possible, such as Joanne Ballard, the vice president of financial services at the university (as well as others in the financial aid department),” Picicci said.
Picicci said the students had to pay their own way to be able to participate in the program. He said the three students who participated in the trip received money from several outlets to be able to attend the program.
“A society in town, the Dante Alighieri Society of Pueblo, contributed scholarships for students going to Italy,” he said. “With their generous donations, students were able to defray some of the program costs by $1,000.”
Students needed to pay the host institution 4,000 Euros, which Picicci said is the reduced rate. President Garcia signed a contract that let the students receive a 20 percent discount when they study in Italy, he said.
“So with the 20 percent reduction it came to 400 Euros, which is around $600. We wired the money to the University of Foreigners in Perugia (the host institution), and then there was a tuition reduction for six CSU-Pueblo credits. As far as air fare, students paid for that on their own (as well as) traveling and personal expenses.” Picicci said.
Picicci said the students lived in an apartment while in Italy which was set up through an agency in Perugia called Student Living. He said he helped students find living situations before the trip. In this case, there were only three students so they shared a small apartment, he said.
Picicci said while in Perugia, students attended the Università di Perugia per Stranieri, or University of Perugia, where they enrolled in 25 hours of Italian per week. While at the university, he said the students took classes ranging from beginning Italian to Italian literature, history, art and cinema.
Picicci said the students also toured around Perugia with him and his wife.
“We went to the Piazza del Popolo (and) the Villa Porcesie (a famous art gallery), which was the highlight of the trip. We (also) had lunches and dinners throughout Rome,” he said.
“For example, we had dinner in Campo de Fiori, which has markets during the day and lots of restaurants and bars that go around it,” Picicci said.
Picicci said even though this trip was for the students, some parts were also memorable for him.
“One of the most memorable things for me was the tour of Trastevere, which is a neighborhood that’s home to a lot of coffee shops and hippie people,” he said.
“It’s really fun to have dinner there at the small restaurant by the famous church called Santa Maria de Trastevere, which is one of Rome’s oldest churches. It was a great highlight for me to have dinner there,” Picicci said.
Picicci said he thinks students definitely benefit from a program like this.
“I think any full immersion program abroad in the target language is an excellent way to understand the culture and the people and really utilize the language at all levels. Reading magazines, reading newspapers, buying a bus ticket, buying food, engaging with people in the country – to really just use the language firsthand,” he said.
“It’s really sad our college classrooms are like actors on a set. It’s made up, not authentic. So to be in a country where the language is really spoken and not in the classroom is an authentic experience and invaluable experience. There’s no way to replicate being in a country,” Picicci said.
Picicci said the trip was personally rewarding for him.
“I ran into a former professor of mine, he was my advisor for my doctorate dissertation. (He) was surprised that I decided to start my own program and take some of my own students to Italy,” he said.
“Fresh out of graduate school he had already begun to promote a study abroad program in Italy. My former professor got to see that I too, am starting a program in Colorado,” Picicci said.
Picicci said he thought the trip was rewarding for the students.
“One student that did experience this said (the trip) changes his life,” Picicci said. “To hear something like that from a student and to know that a lot of teaching and hard work that I put in to the lessons and my classes pay off due to lots of planning and organization feels wonderful.”