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Seeing Italy up close

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Seeing Italy up close
P.C. professor shares European experience

Sequim Gazette staff

Last spring, Kate Reavey, a Sequim resident and Peninsula College professor, experienced the wonders of Florence, Italy.
She was selected for a 10-week program through Washington Community College Consortium for Study Abroad to lead world literature and creative writing courses for 18 students locally and from California and Washington.
Reavey is following up her trip by hosting a lecture and slide-show presentation from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, in the Little Theater at Peninsula College.
“The experience was awe inspiring and a perfect fit for study abroad,” Reavey said.
“From the Renaissance art to the modern fashion designers to the olive groves and vineyards, Tuscany is so full of beauty, it is tough to avoid clichés when we recount stories of our time in Florence.”

Finding Italy
The discussion covers her challenges and high points of teaching abroad.
She found students’ writings were more effective due to the difficulties of traveling.
One student was robbed, another left after three weeks, but as a whole, the experience was rich beyond words, she said.
Reavey’s classes encouraged students to engage in the local culture, the Renaissance arts and their own responses to being away from home.
Students corresponded with a pen pal in the U.S. while abroad via letters and web logs.
Reavey said the letters provided the students a framework not only to gain perspective during their stay but to create a profound “souvenir” of the time spent in Italy.
In literature courses, they read Dante Alighieri and Giovanni Boccaccio.
“From Dante, not only did the group garner a better understanding of poetry — the Italian language lends itself seamlessly to rhyme — but also the transition from Latin to (modern) Italian,” Reavey said.
“Some have called Dante the ‘rapper of the Middle Ages,’ as he so valued the vernacular, the language of the streets, he wrote an epic poem in three parts — now known as the “Divine Comedy” — to prove the effectiveness of Italian.”
The favorite author among Reavey’s students was Giovanni Boccaccio. This is partly because of his wit and humor and because the class was able to visit locales throughout Florence that appear in Boccaccio’s “Decameron.”

Travel far travel abroad

During their free time, some students traveled as far as Morocco and Greece.
Many questioned the customs and behaviors of their environment, and in an Italian culture class, students were welcomed to ask challenging questions.
The instructor was an American who had studied literature, politics and culture both in the United States and in Italy. Reavey joined her students in a language class that was held solely in Italian.
She will mention her findings on farming, agriculture, poetry and bioregional studies and relate them to the North Olympic Peninsula.
Photos and art from the trip will be displayed at the presentation.
The poetry, memoirs, drawings and paintings completed by students in the spring-quarter program will be published in a book supported by the Peninsula College Foundation, forthcoming in 2011.  
Reavey is a former park ranger and current coordinator for Environmental Humanities, an educational planner and English instructor.
She’ll begin her doctoral studies in January, focusing on writing, technology and how to best inspire students of English composition and literature.
For questions or directions to the lecture, call 452-9277.




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