LETTERS FROM THE PRESIDENT
Everytime a new group of students arrives in Sorrento, it is fulfilling to see their eyes big with wonder of this new reality around them, full of desire to know more about their new surroundings. However, I don’t think many students realize that by the end of their study abroad journey, they will not have only learned a great deal about this new place and new culture, but about themselves. Each arrival brings me back to my own time as a study abroad student, and it is my wish for each and every one of our Sant’Anna students to have the same opportunity for a metamorphic experience.
When we are used to living in the same place, with the same people around us and the same routine, our perspective, even our perspective of ourselves, may be limited. In a different place, with new stimuli, we are often forced to shift perspectives and adapt to new realities. It is our mission at Sant’Anna to inspire and motiviate students to find and to be their authentic selves and to encourage them to shine the light on their talents and passions, especially those that may not have been evident to them before. In fact, the very word educate comes from the Latin word educ?re, which means to take out or to extract – and this is the magic of our work as educators – to help our students extract their full inner potential.
Discovering one’s strengths and the desire to fulfill one’s dreams no matter the challenge is another amazing aspect of the study abroad experience. Studying abroad has plenty of challenges, but through these, many students develop more confident attitudes towards life, which is also not always an easy journey. We have been sharing some of our alumni stories, which are testimonies of Sant’Anna students who were able, through their study abroad experience in Sorrento, to realize new capabilities and better understand who they wanted to be and what they wanted to do in their futures, embracing fantastic careers in a variety of fields and professions.
It makes me very proud to be a part of this process that encourages students to be free, to be happy, and to live the life that they have chosen for themselves. Last week we welcomed our first onsite Summer students to Sorrento, and we are excited to fulfill our mission once again with our new arrivals and the many more to come.
Dear Sant’Anna community,
As we have recently announced, Sant’Anna Institute is honored to have begun a new partnership with The Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America® – OSDIA. As a frequent visitor of the U.S., I have had many first-hand experiences with the Italian American culture, and something I have found is that the younger generations of Italian Americans seem to have a disconnect with modern day Italy. They are more knowledgable about the Italian culture of older generations, likely the ones that emigrated from Italy and passed down their traditions in America. It is beautiful, however, to see the Italian heritage so proudly carried in the U.S.
On the other hand, or should I say, on the other side of the Atlantic, we have welcomed hundreds of American students to Sorrento over the years, many of which have been Italian American and even those who have chosen to study in southern Italy, where most Italian Americans can trace their roots, for the opportunity to connect to their family heritage. And when they do come here – to live and breathe and speak and eat everything Italian – you can tell they leave with a different perspective. Not only having reconnected with the Italian language and culture, but also the people and the sense of community, reminding them that even across the world, how strong their Italian roots are.
So for our Italian American students especially, the study abroad experience may have an even deeper meaning to the idea of having a “home away from home.” It is my sincerest wish for these students to live this experience to the fullest and possibly discover something new about who they are and where they come from. I hope that their time abroad is like a bell, ringing to awaken them to a new understanding of their roots, their Italian American families, and themselves.
I look forward to continuing this mission, alongside The Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America®, of connecting Italian Americans to their heritage in southern Italy.
Dear friends ,
Caring for each other is important in all of our lives, especially during times like these with the covid pandemic. Covid has taught all of us to appreciate the the essentials in life. We have learned not to take for granted simple parts of life, like gathering with our friends or going on a trip. We have encountered new experiences and new emotions.
The opportunity that we were given to visit the Town Hall of Sorrento and meet with the mayor, despite all of the current restrictions in place, was a moving and momentous event. For the mayor, the RtHon. Massimo Coppola, to take the time to acknowledge not only Sant’Anna for our perseverance in the name of international education, but especially our seven Spring semester students from the U.S. who have made this mission all possible, was a tremendous honor.
The mayor was also impressed by the will of our students to engage with Sorrento, in particular with the service learning project “Tyler’s Touch” that we are bringing to Sorrento this semester through the vision of one of our students, Tyler Mason. The project essentially gathers toiletry products to donate to women’s shelters, which we will be doing on the Sorrento Peninsula to donate to a shelter in Naples. As a woman and a mother of a 20-year-old daughter, the thought of her having to endure a violent environment is very scary. So this project centered on caring for each other, no matter the quantity of products that will be donated, is of great significance us women, for our daughters, and for the next generations.
So in short, right now we are living a moment of appreciation, cherishing what we have and what we can do for each other.
My son will be graduating this month, and unfortunately, the ceremony will be online and there will be no big celebration like had always been planned. However, this is still a huge milestone in his life. I told him to look at what he has achieved – to not let the circumstances diminish the importance of this event. A change in our perspective can make all the difference in living, especially during a pandemic, to the fullest.
So my wish and my focus during this unique time, is for our students to see glass half full and to enjoy all there is to enjoy in this moment at its best
Dear students, alum, families, partners, and friends,
Our Spring 2021 semester has officially started onsite in Sorrento, and it is already our third week in. The preparation and anticipation for this semester has been a long road, but a very exciting journey as well as our campus welcomed our U.S. university students back onsite for the first time since the Spring 2020 semester.
The decision to reopen our doors once again was a hard one, given the fear of potentially putting any of our students, staff or anyone for that matter in danger. However, after the past year of facing the unknown and learning how to more confidently confront this pandemic with the utmost caution and safety, the desire to be able to give this opportunity to students again was very important to me.
Personally as a mother, with both of my kids abroad last year during the outbreak of the pandemic, I fully understand the anxiety and fear of having my children, pieces of my heart, so far away during difficult times and not being able to protect them completely. But during this period, I was as present and supportive as I could be everyday. It was not only a good lesson for me in learning how to trust them more as adults, but also an important rite of passage in their lives as well – realizing how to take care of themselves more.
So when I made the decision to open Sant’Anna again, I thought a lot about the other parents out there like me – maybe torn between our innate, selfish desires to keep our kids always next to us under our safe control, but also with the confidence that they are strong enough to make it even on their own.
I felt a lot of responsibility making sure our protocol was in place and everyone was informed and prepared to follow the rules, both staff and students. From the moment they arrived, our students demonstrated their maturity in understanding and respecting the rules, not just set internally at school, but those set at regional and national levels by our government.
It is true pieces of our freedom have been stolen from us during this pandemic, but we have also been reminded of the freedoms that cannot be taken away from us and that we probably no longer take for granted if we had before. Our students exercised their own freedom to take chances and to live to the fullest the opportunities they have been given. They are our proof that no matter happens, we can persevere. The world may change face, but our values in education and life – commitment to multiculturalism, open-mindedness, respect, inclusion – are still there for us to take hold of. It is time to see the world with a new lens, but always with the same wonder.
Our heroes here will be different than the alumni that came before them – they will gain an additional perspective unlike any of our students before, and their personal growth may be intensified as well. We are proud and honored to have them here, and it is my hope and sincerest wish that Spring 2021 will be a respark to a new beginning of studying abroad in Sorrento.