“Experientia docet,” Learning by experiencing. One must, however, be open to what experience teaches, and always be ready to change. In keeping with this philosophy, Umbra has instituted a new format for the first week of classes, in which students participate in a week-long program of intensive Italian language instruction. The program offers four days of intensive study…with a twist.
After four hours of grammar, phonetics, and vocabulary, students experience one of the Institute’s “cultural immersion workshops.” Taught by the staff or outside experts, these hour-long workshops are aimed at introducing the students not only to some basic vocabulary (they are conducted in Italian), but also some important aspects of Italian culture, like caffè (coffee), ceramica (ceramics), cucina italiana (Italian cuisine), and lirica (opera).
The response thus far has been extremely positive, and the hope is to make those immersion workshops a permanent part of the academic program. Because “culture shock” is fundamentally the result of a clash of both a new culture and language, these workshops seek to bridge that gap, helping students to become excited about living in Italy and more knowledgeable about their new home.
In photos: Francesco Gardenghi, director of the Italian language program, leads a cultural workshop on Umbrian pottery (also shown at left); Zachary Nowak, student services assistant, engages Umbra students in a discussion on la cucina italiana.