Edu. students get chance to study in Italy

St John’s University’s School of Education is offering a three-credit program in early childhood education in Italy this summer.
Now in its third year, the Travel Abroad program will offer 10 Pacini scholarships, double the number established last year. The scholarships are funded by an endowment from the University patron Josephine M. Pacini.

While applicants are supposed to have a bachelor’s degree, St John’s alumni and staff may also apply. Others without credit who are interested in participating are also encouraged along with SJU undergraduates in their senior year with a good academic position. The acceptance fee is $750, which is due upon acceptance and is nonrefundable.

Mainly aimed at graduate students who are early childhood teachers and administrators, the program allows those participating to explore the Italian influence on early education. Two St John’s University professors are hosts-Dr. Smita Guha, assistant professor of Early Childhood Education, and Grace Ibanez-Friedman, associate professor of Education.

“Going to Brescia, Italy will help me learn about how other educational systems work,” Friedman said. “I think that I can bring back new ideas to my classrooms at St. John’s and to better prepare my students to become excellent teachers.”

There is also a new edition to the program– a morning trip to the Steiner’s School where art in early education is the focus.

Students will have the opportunity to explore Italy’s narrow laneways, famous art and ancient architecture of Verona during the afternoons. In the evenings, they have the option of attending the opera Aida by Verdi, in the open-air Roman amphitheater, according to the St. John’s Web site
Along with making and completing sculptures and paintings there will be a study of Italy’s culture, history and art.

Tours will be given in Florence, Brescia, Reggio Emilia, and Trento. Students will also be making field visits to summer programs in preschools, visits to museums and monuments to see firsthand masterpieces from the ancient, medieval and Renaissance eras in northern Italy along with a theatre night and a farewell dinner.

Students who have enrolled in the program are excited for their trip to Italy.

“I think going to Brescia, Italy will allow me to appreciate and learn from another educator’s perspective,” said Stacy Anne Garal, 25, who volunteers in a Pre-K and works as substitute teacher at a Catholic school in Queens.