Each semester, the Spring Hill College Italy Center takes Spring Hill students on a social justice immersion trip in order to further integrate Jesuit ideals into the classroom.
Ronnie Bergeron, a junior studying at the Italy Center, volunteers at a clothing shop and a kitchen each week as a part of his Human Rights and Global Change class. “I am reminded of the beauty of people wanting to help others. Even without a solid comprehension of the language, the volunteers are happy to have me help in whatever way I can,” Bergeron said.
This semester, the students went to Puglia, a region in southern Italy, where they visited organizations promoting and working for environmental protection.
They not only visited the organizations, but got hands-on experience. The students visted an anti-mafi a vineyard. There, they helped harvest the plants, while also learning about the impact of the mafia in Italy.
Junior Kylee Culbertson said, “It was incredible learning about how, democratically, the people began to win back their lands from the mafia. It was also fun helping harvest as well as running around the vineyard with my friends and drinking the freshest grape juice of my life.”
Dr. Simone Bregni, the new director of the Italy center as of July 2022, has had connection to the SHC Italy Center for years through his previous employment as the Italian Studies Program coordinator at St. Louis University.
Dr. Bregni emphasizes the importance of social justice as a Jesuit institution because it corresponds to the main Jesuit principle “Men and Women for Others.”
“The purpose of the social justice immersion trips is to observe and experience others putting their lives to the service of other human beings, in different areas, professions, and with different abilities and roles. It is a deeply educational experience that is meant to assist students to fi nd their own calling in life, whether in education, in the social sciences, in the health sciences, in politics or in finance/the business world,” said Dr. Bregni.
With the new leadership of Dr. Bregni, the SHC Italy Center plans to expand the program including partnering with more institutions as well as offering more courses to meet students’ needs.
To learn more about the Spring Hill College Italy Center, go to Italycenterbologna.com.