Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?
Manola: Yes I did! My first study experience abroad was in England, at the University of Exeter. I spent years daydreaming about exploring the world. It was time for me to live the adventure in first person so, as an undergraduate, I applied for the European exchange program Erasmus.
I took an amazing class in Viking archaeology; I shared laughs, recipes, and chats with friends from all over Europe; I saw the most intense ocean blue in Cornwall. It was one of the best experiences of my life, I still smile when I think of it… and since then I never stopped traveling and studying, from Brazil to the United States!
Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?
Manola: Learning a language is awesome! The opportunities to find new friends or simply exchange different ideas and points of view multiply; each language you learn gives you new perspectives on how to approach and interpret the world. For instance, the English language taught me to express concepts more clearly and directly.
As an anthropologist, I am acutely aware that you cannot separate language from culture: only through daily immersion you can really understand how a language is the expression of a specific culture. Meeting a new culture can be unsettling or even shocking at the very beginning, but this experience can have a huge positive impact on your life.
Cultural immersion can help you questioning deep-held beliefs, allows you to discover different ways of life, and stimulates your curiosity. In any way, you will never be the same: and be careful, it can be addictive!
What was your favorite traveling experience?
Manola: My very first travel to Brazil, in 2003, was unforgettable. When I landed in São Paulo, my jaw dropped at the view of hundreds of huge buildings as far as my eye could see. I grew up in a small town in Alpine Italy, surrounded by mountains, so I had never saw anything like that!
It was late spring in Brazil, and it was extremely hot: I can still recall the dense subtropical air, the strong smells in the streets, and the mind-blowing flavors of fruits. Everything was so new and different, the nature was glorious, and the sound of Portuguese was like music to my ears. Brazil holds a special place in my heart, and I kept going back to this fascinating country. However, no other trip left such a deep mark in my soul.
What unique qualities does your company possess?
Manola: Our company is an independent provider in which young, dynamic and prepared people are looking forward to start a new exciting adventure with international students. We have a solid travel and academic experience, combined with a strong connection with our beautiful land, Trentino.
We strongly believe that outdoor educational activities need to be an integral part of the learning experience, and our program is carefully designed to reflect this approach. Our territory has so many stories to tell, and we cannot wait to explore them with our students!
We also value the quality of relationships, and we will make sure to devote all the time and energy that each student will need to have a fulfilling experience.
We also believe in the importance of providing an appropriate amount of free time so that students can independently explore the surroundings and fully take advantage of their immersion in the European culture.
What does your home-country's culture value that is taught in your program?
Manola: We choose the name “Dolomit” for our company to honor one of the most important features of our land: the Dolomites, one of the few UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites in Italy. Not only the Dolomites are exceptional for their scenic beauty and their scientific relevance, they also symbolize a set of values that will be central in our courses.
We will see how mountains have never been an obstacle to human exploration and connection, quite the opposite: this continuous exchange shaped different cultures that learned how to thrive in this challenging environment.
Trentino, as a borderland with a special political autonomy, is also a successful example of how Italy addressed historical conflicts.
This area has been a lab of peaceful cohabitation of different cultures and is currently experimenting innovative ways to face environmental and social challenges of global significance.