Chapman Students Explore the Subpeninsula of Italy

This summer, Chapman’s Italian Studies Program offered 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. In addition, thanks to the educational resources provided by the Ferrucci Institute, students were able to develop unique scholarly and creative projects through mentorship and interviews with artists and leaders in the community.

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 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:

“This travel course was one of the best learning experiences of my life. I learned so much about Italian culture, people, and about myself. I grew beyond just my Italian language abilities, but socially and as a creative. I wish I could experience it all for the first time again.” – Aidan Forte

“The invaluable element that came from submerging myself into an entirely new culture was the different pieces of myself that I found as a result of being stripped from my usual comforts. The feeling of temporary unsettlement allowed me to develop deeper connections to the city around me, bridging parts of my self-discovery to the revelations of experiencing the rich history present there.” – Maddie McMinn

“I feel like this trip not only helped me begin learning a new skill but unlocked a new level for me as a person. I went into this experience not knowing much about Italy and Italian, but after three weeks, I have been inspired to continue this exploration and pursue Italian Studies. The memories made on this trip will last me a lifetime!” – Skyler Poiley

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