Scholarship Competition Encourages Florence Students to Immerse Themselves in the Local Culture
By immersing themselves deeply in the local culture, students participating in an education-abroad program can enhance their overseas experience, personally as well as academically. Understandably, some students are more adept at the immersion process than others – a fact that led the staff at Kent State University’s Florence Center in Italy to implement a competition among students beginning this spring semester to encourage them to make immersion a rewarding part of their studies.
The competition, which is the brainchild of Andy Wyatt, a student adviser at Florence and a former education-abroad student himself, requires participating students to undertake a project that blends his or her field of study with a particular aspect of Florence or Italian culture. As a requirement of the competition, students must use their environment as the inspiration for their projects. The competition also encourages students to participate in many cultural and social activities throughout the semester as a means of expanding their knowledge of and interest in Florence and translate that knowledge and interest into their projects. As students undergo the development and completion of their projects, they will have the added opportunity to learn about the research process while also honing their presentation skills before a panel of judges.
“Through the competition, students can use resources locally, as well as throughout Europe, to develop the initial stages of their project,” Wyatt explains. “Potentially, the project can even continue on beyond their time in Florence and serve as submission material for a future job or graduate school applications.”
In addition to those benefits, the competition offers a reward of a $1,000 scholarship to the winning student.
Students are able to create their projects on any topic, although preferably one relating to their degree field. Project ideas include but are not limited to:
Drawings, photography, original pieces of writing, paintings, drawings, etc.
Research projects in any area, including history, literature, etc.
Video /documentary projects/ news packages
Languages, sociology, psychology
Profile/analysis of Italian businesses or brands
Throughout the timeline of their projects, students have the support of advisers who will discuss the students’ work, offer advice and assist with resources.
Shortly after their arrival in Florence this past January, students had to submit their project proposals – 16 students submitted proposals that ranged from a comparison of Hollywood versus Italian perceptions of the Mafia to a look at Florence through its fashion. Students then had until April 18 to fulfill and submit their final projects to be judged on their merit by a panel consisting of Florence faculty and staff members Simone Anselmi, Fabio Corsini, Paola Giaconia, Pat Kinsella, Nicoletta Peluffo, Fabrizio Ricciardelli and Andy Wyatt. The panel plan to use the following parameters to judge the contestants’ projects:
Depth of research
Utilization of resources in Florence and Italy
The winning project should be rich in detail and substance, while showing a clear understanding and usage of resources relevant to the students’ field in Italy.
Students who submitted project proposals include:
Fashion and Design Merchandising: Katherine Andrick, Danielle Bennett, Alair Boshela, Micaela Moreno and Sierra Terry
Business: Kassandra Cabrera and Kimberly Debnam
Communications: Aleah Coppin, Nicolette Fisher, Abby Konyak and Jon Martin
Architecture: Jennifer Glowe and Eric Hongosh
Arts and Sciences: Marissa Hoover and Alexis Justice
Interior Design: Nicole McFarland
Students will deliver their final presentations to the judges using a modified PechaKucha-format, which strictly limits presenters to nine visual images and three minutes of presentation time (20 seconds per image), which are advanced automatically. In addition, a project statement of no more than 1,000 words will be submitted.
To complete the competition, an exhibition of all projects is planned for the end of the semester to enable Florence faculty, staff and students to see all the work performed throughout the semester. During the close of the exhibition, the judges also will announce the winner, who will receive the $1,000 scholarship.