Albert Civitarese of Bridgeville, Pa., a member of the Washington and Lee University Class of 2015, is studying abroad in Perugia, Italy, this summer through the Umbra Institute, an American study abroad program located in the central Italian city of Perugia.
As a biology major at W&L and the starting goalkeeper on the Generals' soccer team, Civitarese would have had difficulty fitting a study abroad opportunity — or a chance to study Italian — into his packed schedule.
"This was my only chance to expand on the Italian language while still maintaining my pre-med track," he explained. "And it’s my only chance to study abroad. It’s been a great experience."
During the six-week program, Civitarese participated in the Institute's "Tandem" language exchange, an informal social gathering between Umbra students and Italian students from local universities who serve as language partners. The last of three such exchanges was held a July 4 barbecue celebrating America's Independence Day.
The barbecue was the third such language exchange, one of many co-curricular events organized for the summer program. Designed to teach Italian language through cultural exposure, the program’s other activities include walking tours, art history lectures and concerts during Perugia’s well-known Umbria Jazz Festival.
Created and directed by Dr. Robert Proctor, professor of Italian at Connecticut College, the program is taught entirely in Italian. Students experience about 100 contact hours in the classroom. Civitarese is an advanced speaker in Italian.
"(We) give students an intensive experience of the Italian language and at the same time something that’s very dear to my heart, the liberal arts tradition," Proctor explained. "We strive to give them language learning in the context of a deep intellectual and cultural experience here in Italy."
"I feel comfortable going into any situation," Civitarese said. "When I arrived, I hadn’t studied Italian for almost a year, and since I’ve been here, it’s improved exponentially which has allowed me to immerse myself into the culture here in Perugia."
Often called a "big university town in a small Italian city," Perugia is considered an ideal setting to study abroad in Italy, with fine arts, business and liberal arts courses. Students agree that the program fosters growth on and beyond a linguistic level.
Civitarese, a graduate of Sewickley Academy, was named to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference second team after recording a W&L record-tying eight shutouts last fall. Earlier this week he wasone of the Washington and Lee student-athletes named to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference's 2012-13 Academic All-Conference team.