Monthly Archives: April 2010
Every American study abroad program has computers, digital projectors, and a server, but the Umbra Institute, lead by IT expert Mauro Renna, has leapt into the 23rd century. After having read an article on new forms of electromagnetic reception (actually Jules Verne’s From The Earth To The Moon), Renna decided to introduce some new technologies to the Umbra Via Bartolo Building. The jury is still out on whether or not the aluminum foil will improve wireless reception on the roof of the school, but at least Umbra will save money on lighting in Renna’s office.
Jokes aside, the Umbra Institute would like to thank Umbra staff member (and amico del cuore) Mauro Renna for his five years of IT genius, emergency phone-call response, good spirits, and a ready smile. We wish you luck in Boston and hope you’ll come back soon, Mauro!!!
Yesterday Umbra had its equivalent of an academic showdown, though this time it was in the main conference hall of the Ranieri Foundation (a local non-profit that has partnerhsips with Umbra), not the OK Corral. Students from three courses (Comparative Global Business Cultures, Contemporary Italy, and Human Development) presented the results of the research they had carried out during the semester. The students from the business classes told how they would help a local wine producer enter the Chinese market, while the Contemporary Italy described their experience with their“ethnographies” of real Italian families.
The Human Development class, on the other hand, described their observation of two different Montessori classes and what cultural lessons could be deduced them. The presentations were all part of Umbra emphasis on service learning, and the best presentation won a €250 prize from the Ranieri Foundation. The winners this year were Quinn Scher, Jessie Golden, and Annalise Hafliger, from Professor Ray Shaw’s Comparative Global Business Cultures class. Congratulations!
Last night’s vernisage was a welcome break from the hectic, end-of-semester sprint to study for exams and put the finishing touches on papers. Most of the student body attended the art opening, held in the Via Bartolo building. On display were not only the works of the drawing classes (still lifes as well as full-scale human portraits), but also the photographic marvels wrought by students armed with Photoshop. This semester for the first time Umbra gave awards for the best photo overall and two honoroable mentions.
Laura Houd’s photo of a gondolier in Venice took the top award, and Max Young and Christina Kavanaugh received honorable mentions. All three picture will be framed and hung in the halls of Umbra. And last but certainly not least, students in Umbra’s fresco painting class finally unveiled their completed works from the semester. This last contribution sets out Umbra from most other study abroad programs, and is a perennial crowd-pleaser during the art show. Congratulations and benfatto to all student artists, as well as to professors Stannard and Pettit.
“Writing is hard work,” quipped Hemingway famously. Yesterday was a chance, though, for the students of Professor Cynthia Clough’s “Italy of the Imagination” creative non-fiction course to relax, and to listen. The twice-yearly Umbra Institute literary anthology reading was last night at Argentina and provided the perfect venue for students’ best material from their semester’s labors. Professor Clough was the emcee for readings that ranged from first impressions to final musings on the city (and country) that have hosted them for the past four months. Kudos to our Umbra writers and their professor!
Umbra alumna Kelly Murtagh sent us news that she had just recorded her first song with a record label. Umbra is proud of alumni talent and invites any former students to send us news and links and we’ll add them to the Umbra Facebook page.
Umbra Institute students (and staff) confirmed this binomial last night at Il Paiolo, a pizzeria located in the historic building where the Perugina chocolate factory had its first small kitchen. Il Paiolo had to run two pizzaioli(pizza maker/bakers) to keep up with the demand. The fare was the classic Margherita pizza, named after Italy’s fin-de-siecle queen, and the brick vaults of the Paiolo gave the whole affair an old-timey feel. Umbra’s next food event is (weep) the Farewell Aperitivo: students, see Rachel’s list of Things To Do Before You Leave!
Congrats to Jayne Wilhem from the University of New Hampshire for her winning photo taken in Venice! Jayne will enjoy a free meal from Quattro Passi Pizzeria!
With Monday as a national holiday, students have the day off which equates to a long weekend. Some students are gone for a last weekend away, outside of Italy, while others will spend the weekend with their families who are here to visit.
Wherever you are, we hope you enjoy catching the first few rays of spring sunlight!
Buona Pasqua and Happy Easter!