for BCSP consortium members and associated universities
Spring semester 2016 - N° 16


RSVP: BCSP 50th Anniversary May 27 & 28, 2016 in Bologna
Student Photography
Student Events and Excursions

Searching for Italian Relatives in Italy
Italian After Graduation...it is possible!
BCSP Alum Linguistic Consultant for Maurizio Crozza
Student Spotlight: Jessica Mejia, University of Chicago

Alumni Notes

The deadline to RSVP has been extended to May 1.


Photo credits: "Studying in Piazza Verdi"
by Julie Canziani, BCSP Spring 2016, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Student Events and Excursions


Guided tour of Bologna, 15/1

Guided tour of "Fra la vita e la morte" at Bologna's
Medieval Museum with student Jacob Schmalz (IU)
, 27/1

Pasta Making and Eating Day at Al di là del fiume
, a biodynamic farm in Marzabotto, 30/1

Padova, la Cappella degli Scrovegni
, 11/3

Exchange Party, 13/4

Earth Day at Giardino del Guasto, 21/4

Firenze, Bargello Museum & Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, 22/4

Trip to Tuscany, 6-7/5

Forlimpopoli, Casa Artusi 13/5


"Over the Easter holiday, my family traveled from Chicago to come visit my sister, who studied in Florence for a year, and myself. Our plan was to drive from Florence to visit our cousins who live in Livorno, a small town near Pisa. Before the trip down, we decided to make an attempt to find the small town that my grandfather grew up in, named Sant'Anna Pelago. This small town in the Tuscan mountains held a special place in my father's heart, and he was excited to visit it for the first time. On the Saturday before Easter, my family and I drove up a winding road on a mountain in a blizzard before finally reaching Sant'Anna Pelago. We arrived around 4pm, so most shops and restaurants were not open. We were able to find one place to sit down and have a meal. In the restaurant, there was a group of old Italian men sitting and chatting. One of them overheard us speaking English, turned, and in perfect English asked, "Are you guys from Highwood?"

We were stunned. Highwood, Illinois is a small suburb just north of Chicago that my father grew up in. Apparently, whenever an Italian from Sant'Anna Pelago migrates to America, they travel to Highwood, Illinois. The gentleman in the restaurant explained that he had lived in Highwood for 40 years before returning to Italy to take care of his sick brother. The owner of the restaurant also chimed in, saying his mother currently lives in Highwood. My father asked the gentleman if he knew his father, now deceased, named Massimo Manfredini. The gentleman recognized the name, and remembered my grandfather for fixing his truck multiple times while he lived in Highwood. This story brought my father to tears. The trip to Sant'Anna was more than he or the rest of my family could have ever imagined.

We left Sant'Anna and had a wonderful holiday with my family in Livorno the next day. None of my immediate family spoke Italian, aside from some broken sentences from my father, while none of my relatives in Livorno spoke English. I was able to act as a translator throughout the whole day. The holiday brought us all so much closer together, and I look forward to the day that I will see them all again."

Quinn Manfredini
University of Michigan

BCSP Spring 2015


BCSP friends and alumni offer their valuable insight and advice in this ongoing column about how study abroad in Bologna and learning the Italian language influences personal choices and career paths.

Sarah Tolman (BCSP 2011-12, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Program Manager, F1 High School Program at Greenheart International

Q: How did study abroad in Bologna influence your career?
A: I majored in Italian and German at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. I had lived in Germany when I was younger, so studying in Bologna gave me the opportunity to also become fluent in Italian. I fell in love with the city, the food, the people and travelled all over Italy and other parts of Europe. Being in Bologna solidified my passion for travel and international exchange. I knew that I wanted to return to Europe after graduation, so I applied for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Germany and was awarded the position for one year in Essen. After that year I returned to the U.S. and started applying for positions within the field of International Education. In October 2014 I started at Greenheart International in Chicago.

Q: Tell us about what you do at Greenheart International....
A: I am a Program Manager for international students who want to study in the U.S. during high school. I work with students from over 15 different countries communicating with their sending agencies in their home countries and acting as the liaison between these agencies and our field staff all across the U.S. I interact with people from various countries, and there are some awesome travel perks that come with the job. For example, I am now as we do this interview in Italy travelling to Milan, Bologna, Florence and Rome to visit with various sending agencies to inform them about our program. Hopefully in the future we'll receive more Italian students.

Q: What are your future plans?
A: I am currently applying to a few masters programs in Comparative International Education. I'm hoping to continue learning about cultural exchange, different education systems and would love to work in International Student Services at the university level.

Q: Would you encourage BCSP students to major in foreign languages like you did?
A: People are sometimes confused when you tell them you are majoring in a foreign language and don't understand what career you can pursue with that major. I have found that not only did I learn a lot about different cultures and languages in college, but a lot of doors have opened for me because my double major in Italian and German isn't such a specific major as, for example, Engineering or Business. I had a lot of different options to pursue after graduation.

Q: How did talking about your major and study abroad experience help you during job interviews?
A: I didn't know about the field of International Education, and I hadn't considered it as a career path until my undergraduate advisor told me about it. Having the experience of study abroad and knowing one or two foreign languages is beneficial if you want to pursue this kind of career. You need to understand what it feels like to study abroad in order to assist others with the same experience, transitions and challenges.


Anne Christopherson (BCSP 1984-85, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Language Trainer, Centro Linguistico di Ateneo, Università di Bologna

Q: Could you tell us about your career in Bologna?
A: I began teaching at the Università di Bologna in 1986, just a few months after I graduated from the University of Wisconsin –Madison.  I was hired as a ‘Lettore’, teaching English in the School of Education. I taught there and in other University Facoltà or Schools for seventeen years. Then I quit because I wanted to raise my family. Twelve years went by. Since my children are both adults now (My daughter has recently graduated from the Università  di Bologna with a degree in Statistics and my son is enrolled in International Finance and  Economics at the Bocconi University, in Milan) I decided it was about time I got back into the job market.  In 2015 I was rehired by the University in a similar position as ‘Formatore’ at the Almaenglish Center, so I have an interesting perspective on how finding a teaching job has changed in the course of thirty years, having basically applied for and gotten similar jobs now and thirty years ago.

Q: How has landing an English teaching job at UniBo changed since then?
In the past hiring procedures were very vague and often depended on being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people. Today accessing university positions as ESL teachers is much more transparent and comprehensible. Most universities hire a number of foreign teachers who are native speakers. English is by far the most popular language as most people recognize that it is key to a successful career in an increasingly international job market.

To access University positions now in Italy, you must participate in what is called a Bando di Concorso, which is a sort of public competition. You fill out a number of forms and send your résumé listing all of your credentials, experience and other relevant professional accomplishments. These papers are evaluated by a task force whose job is to give a number of points to each element. The candidates with the most points are then called for an interview which is also judged on a point basis. The two are added up and whoever has earned the most points wins the position. The names of the task force members, the criteria they use to evaluate the materials sent to them and the eventual results are all publically available (usually on line) and can be consulted by anyone interested to promote fairness and transparency.

Finding out about these ‘concorsi’ can be tricky and there are even specialized newspapers and magazines just on this subject. However, most ‘concorsi' can be found on the MUIR website, as well as on individual university websites. Positions in Italian high schools can also be found this way.

One of the biggest obstacles is getting your foreign degree recognized by Italian authorities. To participate in any public ‘concorso’ you must have your university degree evaluated and recognized or given ‘‘equipollenza’ by an Italian consulate. This is a time consuming and costly procedure, but once you have done it, you are set and it doesn’t expire like so many other Italian documents. Otherwise your degree is worthless, no matter what university it comes from.

Obviously a Master’s degree or PhD in teaching English as a Second language, English Literature or Linguistics is a bonus. In the past, teachers were hired with many different degrees because educated foreign language speakers were harder to come by. For example, I have a degree in Italian, but I had experience as a teaching assistant at the UW-Madison, as well as some ESL courses under my belt, but I also had colleagues with degrees in things like Biology or Political Science.  Some private language schools would even hire people with just a high school diploma, but that has all changed now.

Another useful tool for finding work as a language teacher in Italy is having ESL certification. One example of this sort of certification is Cambridge’s CELTA.  Just make sure you find a serious certification program. Most of these courses are British and  are quite expensive, but very rigorous and well organized. Don’t fall for some of the cheaper online solutions without doing your homework about their validity.

Q: If English is key to a successful career in an increasingly international job market, as you previously mentioned, why should American students be motivated to learn foreign languages, such as Italian?
A: I have also done a lot of teaching in private companies to all kinds of people from business executives and CEOs to workers on productions lines. This just goes to show that language skills are imperative in all walks of life and at all levels in the working world. With many years of experience, I have seen time and again the loss of income and the lack of growth that not knowing languages and the inability to communicate can cause in the business world. The ‘brutte figure’ or gaffes that companies make time and again with their silly translations and bad emails tell me that I will always have my work cut out for me.

On the other hand when I go back to the U.S. I run into so many people who have never left the U.S. and almost seem oblivious to the existence of the big wide world beyond the U.S. borders and the diversity and richness out there. I think that BCSP students are in privileged position. You have had an international experience that has surely made you grow and has broadened your horizons. You have learned how to deal with a completely different day to day reality. You have learned how to adapt and how to cope. You have met new people and seen new places. For some of you, it may have been fantastic and you never want to go home. For others it may have been a nightmare and you can’t wait to hit the road. Language learning is only a part of it. In my opinion, the international experience is priceless. That said, if you have this experience and you also speak two or more languages, the world is your oyster.


Julie Chaps (BCSP Fall 2013, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Master's degree candidate in Global Security at University of Sheffield, UK

Q: How was the study of Italian relevant to your major in Global Studies at UIUC?
A: As a Global Studies major you are required to reach a certain level of competency in any language of your choosing. So while studying Italian helped me fulfil that basic requirement, it also encouraged me to broaden my worldview when studying other subjects such as international relations. Additionally, many of my other course mates did not study the Italian language so it allowed for me to share my own experiences with them especially after studying abroad in Bologna.

Q: Did your study abroad experience in Bologna inspire you to pursue graduate studies outside the U.S.? Could you tell us about the curriculum at Sheffield and why it interests you?
A: After having an amazing study abroad experience in Bologna I knew that if I were to get a master’s degree that I would want to go abroad again. Furthermore my time in Bologna greatly increased my adaptability and overall confidence for living and studying in another country, so it only made me even more determined to test my abilities again in a different setting.

I chose the University of Sheffield specifically because I found the classes (besides my required Contemporary Global Security class) to be extremely beneficial to a future career in security. And my main goal of studying security outside of the U.S. was to obtain a different perspective than the traditional American security theories. So being able to take a class like “U.S. Hegemony “ at the University of Sheffield has helped me achieve that goal by constantly challenging my previous notions of American security practices.

Q: What are your future goals in the field of Global Security?
A: I am hoping to work in either the private or public sector of security. So whether it is working for a research institution concerning human rights or for a counterterrorism government agency, I am prepared and determined to contribute to providing security to citizens throughout the world.


Cindy Columbus (BCSP 2012-13, Bryn Mawr College) helped famous Italian political satirist and comedian, Maurizio Crozza, prepare his imitation of Donald Trump in English for the episode of Crozza nel Paese delle Meraviglie that aired on March 11, 2016 on channel La7.

Cindy lives in Milan and teaches high school English classes through the SITE program. Friends employed on set called her when Maurizio Crozza decided to interpret Donald Trump. They rehearsed together behind the scenes to perfect pronunciation and the skit's grammar and punch lines. The photo to the right was taken minutes before the show went live.

Cindy commented on the experience: "I was very happy to have this unique opportunity. It was amazing to see the actors, artists and writers at work. They are extremely talented and friendly!"

Just four years ago Cindy was studying in Bologna. She had enrolled for the Fall semester, but fortunately decided to stay for the academic year. BCSP is proud to see an alumna seamlessly integrated into Italian society utilizing to full extent her bilingual skills!



Jessica Mejia (BCSP 2013-14, University of Chicago) graduated in June 2015 with a major in Italian. She originally planned on a double major in Italian and Political Science, but, after her year in Bologna, decided to focus solely on Italian literature, culture and language. Her first exam, Letteratura e Critica Dantesca, at the University of Bologna with Professor Giuseppe Ledda convinced Jessica that Italian was the right choice!

In mid-July, following graduation, Jessica began training for her role as Student Ambassador at EXPO Milan 2015. As a student ambassador, Jessica used three languages: English, Italian and Spanish. She gave guided tours of the USA Pavilion in Italian and Spanish and also participated in Beyonce’s Move Your Body flash mob.  When Secretary of State John Kerry visited the pavilion in mid-October, Jessica was selected to present the content and features of the political pillar.

BCSP looks forward to following Jessica’s future endeavors!


Daniele Amarossi (Overseas University of Pennsylvania Spring 2014, Università di Bologna) recently wrote: "My semester at Penn has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life. It had a huge impact on me because the people I met there have become some of my best friends; it also shaped the academic decisions I made after my undergraduate degree. I decided that I would not compromise anymore and that I wanted the best education possible. I can easily say that if it weren’t for my exchange program, I would not be doing a MSc in Management and Strategy at the London School of Economics today." BCSP would look forward to hearing more from former Overseas exchange students!

Elizabeth Bernhardt (BCSP 1991-92, University of Pennsylvania) returned to visit beautiful Bologna in February. She spent a week visiting along with her daughter Daphne who was born here 11 years ago. They are currently based in Testaccio, the ancient Roman amphorae neighborhood. Since BCSP Elizabeth completed her Ph.D. in European History at the University of Toronto, and her work on a Bolognese family of the fifteenth century won the best dissertation award from the Society of Italian Historical Studies.  She plans to publish soon her related manuscript on Genevra Sforza de’ Bentivoglio.   She teaches classes on Italian history and culture for Washington University in St. Louis, the University of California in Rome, and the Liceo Classico Giulio Cesare in Rome.  With her sister and some other painters and through her non-profit organization La bottega del quattrocento she is also working on a community art project in a small town in Basilicata to be tied to Matera’s nomination as Capitale Europea della Cultura in 2019. BCSP looks forward to seeing Elizabeth at the 50th anniversary events!   

Nicholas Hartman (BCSP Fall 2014, Indiana University) came to visit last December. Nicholas graduated in May 2015 with a major in Philosophy and two minors in Medieval Studies and Italian. His undergraduate thesis was entitled "Thomist Malevolence" and was about the Thomistic conception of malice. He is currently studying Philosophy in Rome at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas  Aquinas  (Angelicum). He is living in Trastevere and often visits his Italian relatives in Belluno. Last summer Nicholas visited Katherine Boliek and Liz Davis in North Carolina. BCSP looks forward to seeing Nicholas again for the 50th anniversary weekend!

Adam Leep (BCSP Fall 2014, Indiana University) is teaching English at Istituto Superiore Giovanni Falcone in Gallarate through the SITE program. He often visits former roommates and IU friends (Erik Trautman and Nico Johnson) in Bologna. Adam is thinking about taking on a second year of teaching in Gallarate. We hope he will be back in Bologna in May for BCSP’s 50th anniversary.

Keenan McKenzie (BCSP 2014-2015, University of Chicago) and Francesco Namari (Overseas University of Chicago 2015-16, Università di Bologna), after meeting in Bologna, found housing together in Chicago for their senior year. The exchange program could not be more complete, and they sent us a photo to prove it! From left to right: Francesco, Keenan, a mutual friend.

www.bcspbologna.it andrea.ricci18@unibo.it