Connecticut College student, Shameesha Pryor, experiences Italy through her desire to better understand the world around her, by way of community action.
March 14th, 2016
PERUGIA, Italy — Connecticut College student, Shameesha Pryor, recently took the time to reflect on her spring semester abroad. Shameesha is currently studying through ConnCollege’s SATA Italy 2016 program, run by Connecticut College’s Professor Fred Paxton in collaboration with the Umbra Institute, an American study abroad program in Perugia, Italy that offers a diverse selection of semester, year-long, and summer programs.
One of Shameesha’s favorite quotes, which has definitely influenced her perspective during her time in Italy, is: “There are dreamers and there are achievers. The difference between the two is action!”
While abroad, Shameesha has continuously taken the road to action by getting involved with the local community of Perugia; a small, historic, university city that rests on a hilltop in central Italy. She has participated in a number of co- and extra-curricular activities, including the Umbra Institute’s Italian Language Tandem events, educational workshops, and community-engaging field trips, as well as in a an Open Mic night, at the local Alphaville caffè, for which she read a personal piece about challenging societal standards to an international student community.
When it comes to academic participation, Shameesha is enrolled in ESUS 310: Placemaking: Creating Sustainable Urban Spaces and Communities, a course that revolves around creating a sense of community to collectively improve urban environments. Specifically, course participants are working to renovate a local terrace at the end of Via del Cortone in the Borgo Bello neighborhood, in Perugia’s city center. The idea is to clean up the current empty space and evolve it into a lively community center where locals can enjoy family time, live music, and artisan markets. In preparation for the project, Shameesha was inspired by her life experiences to write, “I like the idea of streets as a social scene and one that reflects diversity. I think it is important to feel connected and involved in your neighborhood.”
Shameesha has also shown her interest in community action by taking time to better understand the education and health systems of Italy, through her PYHD 430: Human Development in Culture course; and Italian society, trends, and culture through her SOIT 360: Contemporary Italy course. Through PYHD 430, Shameesha has been able to frequent local schools and other Italian social scenes to study the concept that some ideas, values, and behaviors are universally shared by humans in all cultures. Through SOIT 360, she has delved into various aspects of multifaceted Italian society as well as complex cultural issues.
“Perugia feels like a new beginning. I feel refreshed and accomplished,” said Shameesha, when asked about her study abroad experiences so far. “I feel like I crossed something off my ‘bucket list’ while overcoming my fears of being away and traveling outside of what I know as home”.
Throughout her entire study and travel experience, one idea in particular has stuck out to Shameesha, the idea that: studying abroad can seem intimidating when one thinks about homesickness, unknown roommates, a new language, and cultural barriers; but, as the Italians say, volere è potere, where there is desire, there is ability. Study abroad should be about engaging the international community and learning from the host society by becoming a dynamic member of it. According to Shameesha, study abroad is not a passive learning experience. It is one through which to be active and make a difference.
About the Umbra Institute:
The Umbra Institute is listed as a CC approved study away program. The Institute is an American study abroad program located in the central Italian city of Perugia. Perugia is the ideal setting to study abroad in Italy, with a vast variety of fine arts, psychology, business, and liberal arts courses. It also offers a wide range of service-learning offerings including seminar & practicum and community-based courses. For more information about the Umbra Institute, see the website above.