Italian Immersion Program gives student a new perspective
NEWARK, Ohio, Aug. 17, 2018 – A two-week, whirlwind tour of some of Italy's greatest sites probably was not something that fifteen students expected to do during their education at Central Ohio Technical College (COTC), but in July they did just that. Since 2009, the Italian Immersion Program has given COTC students the unique opportunity to stay with host families in Reggello, Italy and tour the country to expose themselves to other cultures and expand their learning experience beyond the classroom.
They were welcomed to Reggello by a community party that was also a birthday celebration for one of the COTC students, Taylor Adair Osborn. Four days of the trip were spent in the town of Reggello with their host families, learning how to make olive oil or pizza and enjoying the fireworks celebration of the town's patron saint.
"By being a part of this program I had the chance to travel for the first time and experience everything," said Osborn. "I wanted to participate in this trip because I am considering a career in teaching abroad."
Osborn, the other COTC students and the faculty/staff chaperones got a glimpse of Italy's education system during their visit to Rondine Citadel of Peace in Arezzo, Tuscany.
"We experienced a unique form of higher education that brings students from warring or conflicting nations together to live and learn together," said COTC and The Ohio State University at Newark Assistant Director of Student Life Justin Khol. "Our system of higher education is vastly different and it was great to hear from students from Rondine about their experience and studies."
Beyond the classroom, the group crossed the Bridge of Sighs, ate traditional pizza and enjoyed a leisurely gondola ride in Venice.
"I adored Venice," said Osborn. "I loved to go through the alleys where I found secret shops or beautiful street art."
They stopped along the Ponte Vecchio to buy souvenirs and toured the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. The COTC group spent two days in Rome to visit the Colosseum, tour the Vatican and throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, among a long list of sites they saw there. Their tour of Italy would not have been complete if they had not gotten to Pisa for a viewing of the Leaning Tower. They also relaxed at the beach in Viareggeio while in Pisa. Views of the Italian countryside abounded during several hiking trips in places like the Vallombrosa Forest in Tuscany.
"Each day brought new challenges as students lived with host families in Reggello and navigated language and cultural hurdles," said Khol.
"I learned that I can do anything. I learned to put my fears and anxieties aside to live in the moment. I learned that Italy could feel like home," Osborn said.
According to Khol, the next trip is tentatively slated for the summer of 2020. Students interested in the program can expect to begin the application process in the autumn of 2019. To be eligible, students must have at least completed nine credit hours. The application process includes a written application, an essay and an interview to be selected as one of the fifteen who will be given the opportunity to experience Italy.
This program is possible through the generosity of J. Gilbert and Louella H. Reese. Thanks to the Reese family and their efforts to sustain this program, COTC gives students a competitive edge in the global marketplace.
During the summer of 2019, COTC and area community members will be hosting students and youth from the community of Reggello.
For more information, contact COTC and Ohio State Newark Director of Student Life Holly Mason or Assistant Director Justin Khol at 740.364.9578.
COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.