Thursday, April 28, 2011

Winding Down, Looking Back

Written by Angela Pisoni, Student, CET Intensive Language and Culture Studies in Catania.

As the semester comes to an end, the students are thinking about their favorite CET activities and how the program could have flown by so quickly. Below are some of Angela Pisoni's favorite memories from the Traveling Seminar to Rome.

It is difficult to believe that we’re approaching the final two weeks of our Catanese semester! It seems like yesterday that we took to the skies to travel to Roma for the three-day Traveling Seminar. Leading the way were our Resident Directory Janet Lawrence and Sicilian history professor Ivana Santonocito.

After checking into our hotel on Friday morning, we wasted no time in beginning our Roman adventure. First stop, no surprise, was The Vatican followed by the Sistine Chapel. To our relief, we were able to skip the seemingly endless line to meet our amazing tour guide, who led us through The Vatican Museums, imparting knowledge along the way in a perfect mixture of Italian and English. Later we had a delicious group dinner.
Saturday was chock full of many wonderful sights – the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Museo di Risorgimento.

After the full morning, we had the afternoon free to discover Roma for ourselves. We visited many ‘must-sees’ including the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain (where many a coin was tossed!).

For the final piece of our Roman escapade, we visited Villa Borghese, home of the second largest park in Roma, as well as the Galleria Borghese. Needless to say, it was the perfect bookend for our Roman traveling seminar – bellissimo! Later in the day we all parted ways to embark on our respective spring break travels. Ciao, Roma!

Looking back, I see this trip as the perfect anchor for my semester in Catania, because it provided both a bonding experience for the group and a better understanding of how Sicily fits into the broader context of Italian history.

Edited by Janet Lawrence, Resident Director.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sicily: A Melting Pot

Written by Sam D'Anna, Student, CET Intensive Language and Culture Studies in Catania.

One day I was taking a quick break from my run just outside Piazza Falcone near the seashore. Because of its vast open space and well-preserved concrete, this piazza is a prime spot for pick-up basketball games. Though on this particular day a group of young men were playing a cricket match. As I caught my breath, I leaned up against the fence to get a better view of the action. Within seconds one of the players hit a pop fly out of the fence. The ball landed about ten feet from where I was standing. Quickly, I ran to grab the ball so that I could return it. I approached a player, but he showed no interest in meeting me. The only thing he was looking at was the ball in my hand.

Absentmindedly, instead of using my Italian, I said “Here you go!”

Immediately the man looked up at me. After realizing what I had just said, I corrected myself and said “Mi dispiace, ecco."

He continued to stare for a few more seconds, as if he still did not understand what I said. Loudly, he shouted out to his other friends in what I believe was Hindi. They came circling around me.

I introduced myself and told them where I was from in Italian. The first man understood. He told me they were from India and asked if I wanted to play. My eyes lit up. I was not expecting this to happen.

Within minutes they were throwing me their side-armed pitches that bounced in the dirt coming at me at what seemed like 100 mph. I swung away at every pitch hoping that was the right thing to do. I never could quite get the hang of swinging that awkward, flat bat, but I was able to hit a few that traveled no more than a mere 20 feet.

I probably had close to 30 strikes when I finished batting. Maybe there is no strike limit in cricket. Maybe they were just letting the rules slide a bit for me. After ten minutes I was exhausted.

The first man approached me again, this time he handed me the ball. He pointed to where he had been pitching and said “Go there!” So I went and stood at the artificial mound they had created out of old blankets and waited for him to signal that he was ready. I was nervous.

Even after all my years of playing football and baseball, I knew this probably was not going to be something I was good at. Even though I didn’t know what I was doing, I tried to imitate his actions.

After another ten minutes, he came up to me again, put his hand on my shoulder and just laughed. Probably at my horrible play.

There was not a moment that went by during the game where I didn’t learn something new.

The same goes for everyday life in Catania. It’s possible to meet someone from virtually every corner of the world in this unique city. Anyone you meet, whether they are Sicilian or an immigrant, has an interesting story and shares an equal interest in who you are.

Edited by
Janet Lawrence, Resident Director.