What position do you hold at SRISA? What has been your career path so far?
Lorenzo: Currently I'm a professor of Italian History. I received my Doctorate in Medieval History in 2005. During my Doctorate studies I lived in Moscow, Russia, where I received a scholarship at State University "Lomonosov". Then I came back to Italy in 2004. I became Professor of Eastern European History at University of Florence, then at Sarah Lawrence College, since 2005. I joined the SRISA faculty team in 2006.
Which study abroad destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?
Lorenzo: I think that Italy is, paradoxically, a very underrated destination. Most students today spend a summer here thinking that it can be enough for their CV. The issue is that Italy is a very complex country that should be seriously studied and lived during the less touristy season.
The social networks have threatened the effectiveness of the so called "cultural shock", so that when a student spends a summer or 4-5 weeks here, unfortunately he/she does not live Italy and thus cannot understand the complexity of Italian society and Italian culture. The ideal time to live a full experience abroad is a semester, especially the fall semester, when you can actually enjoy the city, its social dynamics, its museums and interact with the locals.
Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?
Lorenzo: A foreign language broadens your mind, makes you see things under a different perspective and gives you the tools for maturing as a person, which is the goal that every educational system should have. Learning a foreign language opens you up to other people and places you in a mindset of understanding other cultures. It makes you a better individual and thus contributes in building better societies.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Lorenzo: Teaching in both the Italian and the American system has shaped me tremendously. SRISA provides a wonderful, familiar environment where everybody cares about the students and their personal and academic growth.
I have learned to listen to the students and do my best to understand them and their needs. I have learned to put the human growth of the student before everything else, and that's why I love this job, in this school.
What language have you always wanted to learn and why?
Lorenzo: Russian and German. Both because of the terrific literary tradition of these countries. I’ve made it halfway: I speak Russian fluently, but I don't speak any German. One day, maybe, I will fully accomplish this "mission"; I won't give up.
What unique qualities does your company possess?
Lorenzo: Many. SRISA is much more than a school. SRISA is a family that cares about you. All the students who come here to study appreciate our environment and the people who work in it. The staff is always available, nice, helpful and friendly.
The faculty is young, but experienced, made up of scholars who continue studying and improving day by day to offer the best education affordable to everyone.
SRISA is an enriching community where students are explore their new environment and push themselves academically and personally, yet feel at home. At the end of the semester, none of the students ever want to leave.
What changes would you make to the study abroad industry?
Lorenzo: Education in general and study abroad in particular are too focused on the monetization aspect today. Education is not a commodity, you cannot buy it. Education is a social elevator, it makes you a different person. Good education builds good civil consortiums and makes the world a better place to live.
How can we hope to improve our societies, to correct the things we don't like around us if we don't make good education accessible for everybody? How can we complain about the social dynamics of our times, about the "social disorder" if we keep good education as a luxury product? One of the philosophies of SRISA is exactly this: fight with all our means against this mentality and to offer the best international education we can to everyone.
Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of the SRISA team.
Lorenzo: Every time I see a colleague speaking with a student out of his office hours; every time the emergency phone rings in the middle of the night and the person in charge of it does not complain and hurries to fix the problem; every time I look around me and think of how the school has grown from being an art school to offering world-class courses in Liberal Arts and Design, with such a dedicated staff, faculty, and administration - I'm really proud of being a part of this group.
What does your home-country's culture value that is taught in your program?
Lorenzo: The culture of beauty in the differences. Italy is a very old country and a very young nation; our culture is a mix of influences from everywhere and you can see it clearly in the amount of art, monuments, archaeological sites we have here. Italy can change you. Just open yourself up to it.