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Madison Mele

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Bio Summary
Cohort Year: 
2016
Home Institution: 
Thiel College
Heinz Programming Area: 
Arts & Culture
Study Abroad Country: 
Italy
International Experience

Madison Mele studied in Florence, Italy for four weeks through the AIFS summer program. Her main goal was to learn about the Renaissance, enriching her understanding of literature by studying the history, art, and humanistic values that engulfed that time period and emanate through the streets of Florence. She took a painting class to fulfill her goal of practicing techniques of her artistic genius predecessors and to marvel at the many significant art pieces that played an important role in transforming history. Some of these pieces included Michelangelo's "Statue of David," Brunelleschi's Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio and Arno River, the Uffizi Gallery, the Medici Castle and other ancient buildings. She would often seek out museums that displayed women artists' work from the Renaissance time period that were lost or destroyed but recovered thanks to the Advancing Women Artists Foundation. In her free time, she could be found walking the streets with her enthusiastic, Dutch professor, Frans, who was not only a walking encyclopedia but an extremely friendly local who introduced her to some of the people who enlightened her journey. Not only was Frans competent in painting and art history, but he also knew everything about history, literature, language, and music. Sharing his wisdom and knowledge with Madison was one of the many highlights of her experience.  Madison also took advantage of the many excursions offered by her program, including trips to Siena, Lucca, Cinque Terre, Caramanico, and Chianti. Through merging her in-class knowledge with the culture and history right outsider her doorstep, Madison was able to reach her goals of becoming competent in the Renaissance, immersing herself in the Italian culture and making friends with the locals, along with learning a whole lot about herself and her place in this world.

Community Engagement Experience
CEE Title: 
Please Excuse My First Language

Our CEE was extremely interactive and was designed to simulate the language barrier that we were dsicussing. To begin, Professor Carlson played Simon Says in Spanish with the audience. Most of the audience did not speak Spanish at all, so the activity was challenging for them. Our motive was to get the audience to feel frustrated and confused when playing Simon Says because that 's how study abroad and international students often feel when entering a foreign country. After that, we asked the audience how the activity made them feel and explained that this is how we felt in our host countries at times. We then explained the round table discussions where one international or study abroad student sat with a group and discussed one of the questions in the envelope. After five minutes, we would open the discussion to the entire audience. We repeated this four times for all four questions. At the end of the discussions, we had a brief PowerPoint presentation about how to overcome the language barrier. We also shared personal stories of our time abroad. Overall, the event was fun and extremely meaningful. People enjoyed it and were inspired to study abroad while also making international students feel more comfortable on Thiel's campus.

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