Rachael Levesque: Abroad Nostalgia has Officially Commenced

Rachael Levesque: Abroad Nostalgia has Officially Commenced

Posted by: on November 12, 2015   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized


Hello fellow edu majors! As the days begin to get darker a little bit earlier, and the warm Florence air has been replaced with a crisp, autumn breeze, it seems that we are in the home stretch of returning home back to the states, which is definitely a bitter sweet feeling.  I think this point in the semester is such a nostalgic time, as you look back at all the places you’ve been and the things you’ve seen, and realize you only have a limited time to cross any final things off your bucket list before going home.  Just yesterday my friends and I had the once in a lifetime experience of seeing the Pope! He literally drove right by my apartment, in his Pope-mobile, nonetheless. Another crazy experience which happened to my friend and fellow edu major, Meaghan Creamer, was finding her picture on the cover of an Italian newspaper, as she completed a local half marathon!

As I reflect back on so many of the things I have done throughout my study abroad experience, such as drinking a beer at Oktoberfest, having a croissant in France, riding a gondola in Venice, sailing the Mediterranean with my family for Fall Break, amongst so many other clichés, you come to realize how very few people can say they’ve also seen and done these things.

As someone who was a bit apprehensive about leaving home, and my small, quaint Connecticut hometown, I can firmly say that going abroad was the right decision.  With the great friendships you make, and the indescribable memories you will take away from this experience, missing home (and Dunkin Donuts ice coffee) seems like such a small price to pay.

Corny Study Abroad Tip: Take every chance, drop every fear!

Here are some of the highlights from my experience thus far:


Savona, Italy (View from the cruise ship)


My friend and I, on a gondola in Venice.


The Pope driving by my apartment!


Providence College’s own Meaghan Creamer on the front of the Ravenna Italian newspaper after completing a local half marathon!

Hello fellow edu majors! As the days begin to get darker a little bit earlier, and the warm Florence air... MORE

Trip to the Barbiana School in Tuscany

Posted by: on November 14, 2014   |Comments (0)|Travel

This week the PC education students went on a field trip to the Barbiana School in Tuscany.This school was founded by a priest named Don Lorenzo Milani, and many students who had been kicked out or failed out of other Italian school systems found that they were welcome here. Earlier in the semester, we were assigned a reading written by eight young boys who had attended Barbiana called ‘Lettura a una Professoressa’ (‘Letter to a Teacher’). In the reading, the boys criticized flaws in the Italian school systems. The Don Milani school accepted everyone, and the students who attended the school played an active role in their education.

I care


On the day of the field trip, we met by the Arno River and hopped on a bus. We drove a little over an hour to the base of the mountain that the Barbiana School is located on. Then, we had to hike up the mountain for about an hour from there. I think that we all definitely underestimated the legitimacy of the term “hike”. By the time we got to the top, we were all very tired and sweaty. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. We were surrounded by trees and green, grassy hills and mountains. It was amazing, and really nice to get out of the city for a little while. We went into the tiny school and sat down in the classroom. One particularly interesting thing that we learned from our guide while we were at Barbiana was that anything that the students wanted or needed to use, they had to make themselves. They had even made the tables and chairs that we were sitting on! They referred to this as “learning by doing” because the students certainly learned a lot through creating all of the tools and materials that they needed for their education.

Barbiana 3Barbuana


Our guide spoke entirely in Italian, but our teacher was able to translate what she was saying into English for us. She told us all about the founding of the school, and how some of the students came from extremely far away (one boy had to walk over an hour and cross a river to get to the school). It was evident from what our guide was saying that Don Milani really cared about his students. He went to great lengths to ensure that his students got the education that they deserved. The students who attended the school also played an active role in their education. They were able to decide some of the things that they studied based on what interested them. Also, another fact that I thought was interesting was that the students were also teachers. Once they had been at the Barbiana school for a little while, they would be expected to teach their peers. After our tour, we were all starving, and still had to hike back down to the bus! The hike down was pretty hilarious, we were all tripping over our own feet and struggling to keep our balance as we went down the steep patches of the hike. However, all of our efforts were worth it, because we got to have lunch at a local trattoria. It was a very traditional Italian restaurant that our teacher had picked out, and he told us that we would be treated to the “best ravioli of our lives”. The food certainly did not disappoint. We had three different courses of ravioli. The first was filled with a ricotta cheese, and the second two were filled with mashed potatoes (which is a common Tuscan dish). They were absolutely delicious and we were all absolutely stuffed by the time our lunch was over! It was a great field trip, and well worth the hike!


Kathryn Abraham

This week the PC education students went on a field trip to the Barbiana School in Tuscany.This school was founded... MORE

Field Trip to the Barbiana school, founded by Don Milani

Posted by: on November 9, 2013   |Comments (0)|Florence

Barbiana School

This week the students studying education in Florence had the opportunity to visit the original Don Milani school in Barbiana, Italy. Don Milani, a young priest, established a school for the peasant boys in the small agricultural town of Barbiana in 1956. During the first years there were six boys who attended the school. We met one of these six boys, Michele Gesualdi, who shared with us his recollections of Don Milani and his education experiences.

After an hour bus ride through the countryside northwest of Florence, we arrived at the base of the hill on which the Don Milani school was situated.

IMG_5400 IMG_1446

Two and a half kilometers later we arrived at the Bariana school and chapel. We were greeted warmly by Michele and showed into the school building. For the next hour or so, he shared his passion for Don Milani and his schooling experience at the the Barbiana school.


Michele with all of us in front of the school and chapel


One of a number of pictures along the trail explaining the school’s philosophy.


Some of the original maps drawn by the students.
Note the picture of the original six students; the dark haired boy on the right was the former student we met.




Three tenets of the school:

1) Be aware of the students’ lives and motivate the students

If I stay at school I can smell clean, not like the cows. To quote Michele (translated by Dr. Tarchi) “School is better than cow shit should be written on every school.”

2) Mothers love their children and know that school will benefit them.

3) Need to be progressive and prepare students for the future.


Sharing the original “book” the boys created on animals


All of us in the tool shop



Michele also made reference to the constructivism and cooperative learning as two features of educational philosophy that are similar to what Don Miliani and his students developed and explained in their 1967 paper Letter to a Teacher. Working with his pupils, Milani produced Letter to a Teacher (Lettera a una professoressa), denouncing the inequalities of a class-based educational system that advantaged the children of the rich over those of the poor.


Tuscan Ravioli

After a special two hours at the Barbiana school, we traveled a short distance to Trattoria Giorgione. This small family trattoria is known to the best raviolis ever made.

IMG_54981What fun to be able to watch them make our ravioli 🙂



Sage and ricotta ravioli



Barbiana School This week the students studying education in Florence had the opportunity to visit the original Don Milani school... MORE