Yesterday’s Orientation for the Umbra Institute’s Fall semester was in the Oratory of Saint Cecilia, a beautiful chapel next to the just-renovated San Filippo Neri Church. In the Catholic tradition in Italy, an oratory was an unconsecrated building where the faithful gathered to concentrate themselves on prayer before the actual mass in the next-door church. It was somewhat appropriate today that students and staff met in such a building to center themselves and prepare for the important academic (and spiritual, in the larger sense) journey that they will have this semester.
The Orientation began with a greeting from the staff, after which each member introduced him or herself. Orientation is supposed to both energize the students for the semester and answer questions that may be common to all. Themes covered included academic policies, free time and extracurriculars, and travel. Special guest Chief Inspector Michele Caneschi of Florence was also present and talked at length to the student body about health and safety, and how to be streetsmart in Italy. The orientation concluded with an exhortation to study hard and learn both inside and outside of the classroom.