Journey to Salento: Immersion in Lecce

This summer, the Italian Studies Program of Chapman University was able to resume its signature language immersion travel course. The course offers students the unique opportunity to connect deeply with a specific area of Italy, one defined by unique geographic and historical features, while developing their language skills and cultural knowledge. This summer, the course explored Salento, the southern part of Puglia, with the elegant city of Lecce as its base. Once again, the Marybelle and Paul Musco Endowment for Travel Courses provided significant financial support for the course and allowed all deserving students to participate.

Several local experts in fields ranging from artisanal skills, cuisine, art history, and tourism contributed to the rich schedule of lessons, including tours of major cities and historical sites, craft workshops, and naturalistic excursions. The program was designed in partnership with the University Language Center of Libera Università Mediterranea, which also provided linguistic training tailored to the student’s levels. Modeled on an experiential education approach, the course also included homestays with local families and personalized projects building on the student’s individual journeys.

The innovative model of this travel course continues to prove effective in enabling students to develop a complete and enduring relationship with Italy and to understand the degree of cultural and natural diversity present in the Italian peninsula; this knowledge and direct relationship hold the potential for the integration of new resources into the students’ professional plans and personal lives.

Below, students reflect on their experience:

“Participating in the Summer Travel Course to Lecce allowed me to put my Italian Studies education at Chapman into practice by fully immersing myself in the language and the culture for three weeks. I found a home in Salento and cannot wait to go back; the three weeks flew by in an instant, and yet every moment was full of learning and discovery. I returned from the journey much more confident in my abilities and with memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.” –– Ayuj Consul

“Lecce was an incredible experience; not only did I gain the confidence to use my Italian and improve my language skills, but I got to make lifelong friendships, see incredible sites, and experience the culture of southern Italy. Living in a host family was my highlight – even though I have no Italian genetics, after Lecce, I can definitively say I have an Italian family.” –– Isabella Ocaña

“I absolutely loved my time in Lecce this summer, being Italian it allowed me to further connect with my roots. It also provided me with the unique opportunity to improve my Italian and gave me a better understanding of the authentic Italian lifestyle.” –– Arianna Modesti

“It was a truly eye-opening experience that helped me develop a deep appreciation for Italian culture and the history behind it.” –– Dominic Cote

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