A new agreement between King's and an Italian organization will expand opportunities for students and faculty to study in Tuscany.
King's University College has signed a memorandum with the Rondine Cittadella della Pace, an internationally acclaimed peace and conflict resolution centre in Tuscany, Italy. The Italian institution brings together young people from war-torn regions to study and live with each other. Rondine was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2015 and is specifically interested in facilitating co-operation and growth between individuals who traditionally think of each other as enemies.
The agreement establishes an official relationship between King's and Rondine. Last year, a three-week trial run of an experiential learning program allowed 11 King's students to experience life at Rondine. Students participated in a range of educational and service opportunities, including visits to refugee centres and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, located in Rome. This year, 17 more students are scheduled to travel to Rondine, which is situated near the town of Arezzo.
Cristina Caracchini, a Western University professor of modern languages and literatures, and Allyson Larkin, a professor of social justice and peace studies at King's, created the new program, which allows students to receive up to 1.5 credits in Italian and social justice or political science courses. The acquisition of the Italian language is a crucial part of the program.
"Italian really is the language that is used at Rondine, and that's why it's such a key part of this program," Larkin said.
Larkin described the academic portion of the trip as a research seminar — students develop papers to present at a seminar on the last day of the program. The program seeks "to provide students with a deep historical and theoretical understanding of contemporary social issues," according to a press release. As well, time spent at Rondine can offer important opportunities that textbooks and lectures alone cannot provide.
"It's one thing to talk about the conflict in Palestine or the conflict in Eastern Europe here in the context of a classroom, and it's a whole other thing to meet someone who is your peer and hear it from their side," Larkin said. "I think it impacts [students] … on a whole different level."