Ashley B. is a recipient of an Honors Study abroad scholarship. She visited Sansepolcro, Italy, in May 2017.
As a girl from small-town North Carolina, I knew that leaving the US for the first time would be an experience. But I never knew that I could be impacted quite this much. There’s something about completely submersing yourself in a place outside your comfort zone and challenging yourself to open up to all that a new culture can offer.
During our stay in Italy, we visited local schools and observed how they operate. As future teachers, we considered new techniques and made decisions about how we might improve our classrooms.
But perhaps some of my favorite moments were when we communicated with people in Sansepolcro, including the students. In most Italian schools, students take at least some English. As we walked into the schools, students would come peeking out of doorways, hoping to practice their English with us. “Hello! How are you?” they would say. Being able to respond to them and to see their faces light up was such a wonderful feeling.
The same sort of thing happened when we visited local restaurants and attempted to use our Italian. Our pronunciation wasn’t always quite right, and sometimes our phrases made no logical sense at all, but regardless, that we were even trying brought a smile to the faces of many locals. This indescribable experience has reminded me that while we may not always be able to communicate fluently with one another in the same language, we are all still human beings who appreciate effort, compassion, and love.