I worked in a kindergarten, hospital and with an ambulance service in Siena. It was so cool to be able to have contact with Italy in such a real way. I got to see students, teachers, doctors, nurses, etc. and what their roles are in Italian society. One of the coolest, yet most challenging aspects was the language barrier. I was forced to try to speak and understand Italian constantly. I was also able to learn about the people in a different way which was somehting I think I would not have be able to expereince if I had not been doing service. I have changed a great deal from my experience. I was stretched in some really uncomfortable ways but was able to overcome that and I think I really gained a greater sense of self-confidence. Working in the hospital and ambulance service really helped solidify my career goals and I am excited to go back to my home university and pursue those goals. I am can't wait to find a way to service my community at home and learn even more!" -Brianna
The Italy program is based at Siena Italian Studies, and courses are taught by their faculty, who have developed an innovative approach to teaching language and culture, FICCS (Full Immersion Culture, Content, and Service). You will engage in a 3-week intensive course in Italian, then continue your Italian studies and take a course in Socio-Anthropology for the rest of the semester, usually for a total of 6 - 12 credits for summer. A transcript is issued by the Academic Partner, College of Mount St Vincent, upon successful completion of the program. Unless otherwise noted, courses are at the 300 level except for any foreign language course that will vary.
NOTE: For students whose home institution requires a U.S. transcript, academic credit will be awarded upon completion of the semester on an official transcript from College of Mount St Vincent. Semester hours will be translated into quarter hours.
Students are placed in one of five language levels and study Italian 2 hours a day, 5 days a week. Classes include activities linked to experiences in the city, student presentations, discussions, videos, quizzes, and writing assignments, as well as the study of specific aspects of Italian grammar. The intermediate and advanced levels provide a complete study of grammatical and communicative structures using materials that are varied in both content and type.
Students are placed in the most appropriate of our five language levels and study Italian 2 hours a day, 5 days a week. During the week, students can expect activities linked to experiences in the city, student presentations and discussions, videos, quizzes, and writing assignments, as well as the study of specific aspects of Italian grammar. The intermediate and advanced levels provide a complete study of grammatical and communicative structures using materials that are varied in both content and type.
The language is always presented in its context, so as to avoid falling into the typical classroom trap of detachment from reality. Two or three teachers alternate in the classes, giving students the greatest possible linguistic and methodological variety. Throughout the semester, students will take part in activities that require them to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom. Some of these activities include chatting with their Italian-language partners, conducting surveys in the university’s cafeteria, or participating in the semester’s caccia al tesoro, or treasure hunt.
Contact Hours: 45
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3
An in depth look at contemporary Italian Society and the role that service-learning plays within this context. This course will give students the information and understanding that they need in order to carry out service-learning projects. It will also give a detailed overview of the history of healthcare and volunteerism in Siena. In addition, since Italy has changed from a country of emigration to immigration, it will also cover how this has effected the society and as a result which services are necessary and offered to the general public. Taught in Italian and English.
Contact Hours: 45
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3
The Associazione Centro Ippico "Della Pergola" ASD is an organization that provides various forms of physical therapy to children and adults with disabilities. Students work at the organization’s newly constructed stables and helping with riding therapy, “ippoterapia”. Responsibilities will vary, as "Della Pergola" is a very hands-on organization. Students with previous riding experience may be asked to work solely with preparing the horses, while others will do any number of odd jobs on the grounds. The therapy sessions are individual, so there is always a need for volunteers to sit and talk with the people who are waiting to go in. In addition, students may be asked to help with the maintenance and structural improvements to the center as well as administrative support.
Population Served: Children with disabilities
Areas of Service: Disabilities / Children & Youth / Administration / Construction
Il Laboratoria Center is a day center that is run entirely by volunteers. It provides assistance and organizes activities for Siena's disabled community. Students can serve with local volunteers in organizing and participating in activities that range from art and music excursions to recreational visits to the public pool and site seeing visits to nearby towns.
Population Served: Adults with disabilities
Areas of Service: Disabilities
Founded in 1995, Il Muretto was created with the primary objective of providing opportunities for social, political, and economic growth for the inhabitants of the neighborhood known as Le Piagge. This area, located in the immediate periphery of Florence, was built in the early 1980s with the goal to “welcome”—or, more accurately, contain—the so-called rejects of society: ex-cons, drug addicts, and immigrants that year after year “invade” the Italian cities and countryside. It was constructed, like many similar urban peripheries, completely lacking infrastructures such as parks, community areas, and places for socialization. After just a few years, on the nearby banks of the Arno River, where Florence becomes countryside, the Rom community settled with no authorization. The area quickly became known as the “Florentine Bronx.”
The Association’s current activities in Le Piagge include community projects for children, recycling projects with every type of object and clothing with the goal to educate the zone to not waste, the Il Fermaglio printing house that seeks to integrate socially rejected young people through work experiences, literacy projects for Chinese and Rom children living in the neighborhood, and several workshops and evening courses for adults.
Population Served: Marginalized and disenfranchised people in Le Piagge, near Florence
Areas of Service: Community development / Job training / Education
La Proposta runs, in the medieval gardens, “L'Orto De' Pecci”, a restaurant which employs recovering drug addicts, ex-convicts, and individuals with special needs. There are two different sectors where students can serve. Students are able to assist in cooking food for restaurant employees, preparing the dining area for customers, and cleaning the kitchen. Students also have the opportunity to work in the gardens, both in restoration and in the cultivation of vegetables. The garden has lately become very popular.
Population Served: Persons in need
Areas of Service: Food services / distribution / Environment
An association located at the hospital in Siena that provides care to diabetics. Students assist doctors and nurses in attending to patients and also provide administrative support.
Population Served: People with Diabetes
Areas of Service: Administration / Healthcare
Students can work at a local elderly residence providing service to those who are no longer able to entirely care for themselves. The facility is located in the center of Siena and employs both professional caregivers as well as volunteers from the community. Activities in which students participate include excursions, games/ entertainment, serving meals, and simply providing company to those who are in need of human contact.
Population Served: Elderly people
Areas of Service: Elderly / Recreation / Companionship
A program sponsored by the Misericordia for those in need. Here students volunteer to help run a local food bank twice a week funded by the Misericordia. Students work alongside Italian volunteers in the distribution of non-perishable food items.
Population Served: Persons in need (primarily immigrants)
Areas of Service: Food services / distribution / immigrant / refugee issues & aid
An organization in Siena dedicated to helping immigrants find work, learn Italian, find healthcare, and other needs. Students can volunteer in the office offering administrative support as well as work directly with immigrants in need. Activities include Internet research, translations, accompanying people to offices, coordinating interviews, setting up appointments, etc. This organization also operates the Poggibonsi farm/soup kitchen/residence where students can serve.
Population Served: Immigrants
Areas of Service: immigrant / refugee issues & aid / Social services / Healthcare / Administration / Research
Located just a short walk south of the Piazza del Campo, La Caritas is a Roman Catholic organization dedicated to helping those in need. Though all are welcome to their services, their soup kitchen and used clothing distribution center primarily serve Siena’s immigrant population. Everyone from immigrants from Romania to refugees from Sudan enjoy the warm meals at the church’s daily lunch as well as the services provided by their clothing bank, which distributes local donations varying from books to bed dressings, as well as providing free shower supplies and access to their shower facility.
On a weekly basis, a combined total of over 300 immigrants make use of the resources provided by both the soup kitchen and clothing distribution center. The 90 religious sisters who live on the premises, as well as volunteers ranging from college students to Siena natives, help prepare and serve the daily meals as well as collect, organize, and distribute clothing. La Caritas also functions as a dormitory for women, children, and elderly in need of care and lodging.
Population Served: Primarily immigrants in the city of Siena
Areas of Service: Food services/distribution / Immigrant/refugee issues & aid
Since 1995, Il Muretto has leased a rural casale, or hamlet, in the Mugello hills north of Florence with 17 hectares of land and a working farm. The Villore Project seeks to offer a year-round alternative for the inhabitants of Le Piagge and for all those searching for an escape from the city’s hectic daily rhythms and difficulties, from hosting homeless single mothers and immigrants rejected by society, to offering refuge to groups of children from Le Piagge. Volunteers at Villore may assist in the remodeling and construction work on portions of the houses, or volunteer on the farm, which practices exclusively organic and sustainable agriculture. Farm volunteers take part in daily chores, from feeding goats to clearing brush and pruning olive trees, as well as in the production of preserves, honey, and other products produced on-site.
During this service-learning experience, students will be welcomed into a unique community. An integral aspect of this project is that the students will become residents themselves, from weekends to entire weeks, not only working but living with other volunteers and those in need. Through group dinners at the main house and planning other projects and social activities with new friends, students will be exposed to realities hidden even from most Italians.
Population Served: Marginalized and disenfranchised people in Le Piagge, near Florence
Areas of Service: Construction / Sustainable / Organic Farming
One of the areas in need is the public school system of Siena. Due to recent severe reforms resulting in significant budget cuts and a reduction of educational resources, there is an increasing demand for skilled and enthusiastic volunteer figures within the school system. Through this experience, students have an opportunity to utilize their skills and energy to make a positive impact on the Sienese public school system. Students who decide to work in an elementary school classroom will be paired with an elementary school teacher who will offer suggestions and advice on how to operate within the classroom. Another possibility within the elementary school (given the appropriate circumstances) is to take on the role of intercultural mediator for foreign children. We view this project as an opportunity to enter into one of the most significant facets of Italian society, therefore gaining a more profound understanding of society as a whole.
Population Served: Public school children
The "Camaleonde" organization provides assistance to elementary and middle schools and to families by organizing after-school activities as well as tutoring services for children and families in need. Students can participate as active tutors and/or participants in after-school activities.
Population Served: Public elementary and middle school children
Areas of Service: Education/ESL (English as a second language)/teaching and tutoring
These are University laboratories that test viruses. (There are no dangers to those who volunteer in the laboratory.) Due to lack of funding, many laboratories are short-staffed. Students can help tag experiments, run test machines, sterilize equipment and generally assist the professionals.
Population Served: University of Siena Research Department
Areas of Service: Research
The Arciconfraternità della Misericordia di Siena is an association dating back to the Middle Ages that is dedicated to volunteer medical assistance and community service. Students who work with this organization can choose to focus their energies on a variety of medical realities. They will work alongside medical volunteers in an ambulance providing assistance in transporting patients to and from the hospital, and will be trained in the various levels of emergency medical assistance through courses offered by the Misericordia: basic and advanced levels of emergency medical assistance and a specialized course for on-call residential service. Working with the Misericordia, students will get to know personally medical and paramedical personnel of every level and be offered a detailed picture of the Italian healthcare system. In the interests of cultural exchange, students will also be encouraged to organize English language workshops for fellow volunteers, as English is very useful in a popular tourist destination such as Siena. Please note that this placement has a minimum of a two-month stay.
Population Served: People in need of emergency care, emergency medical personnel
Areas of Service: Healthcare / ESL/EMT (Emergency Medical Technician)
Those interested in the field of medicine can shadow doctors at the Rugani Day Clinic as they visit patients and perform minor operations. Doctors will be able to shed light on the Italian healthcare system and students are exposed to it's intricacies first-hand. Since no hands-on volunteering is authorized this is a placement best combined with another medical service organization such as Arciconfraternità della Misericordia (see below).
Population Served: General population in need of medical care
Areas of Service: Healthcare