By Erica Dunigan
Staff reporter

“Dare il benvenuto all’Italia,” is the Italian greeting a group of students from the Italian language class and other Southwestern faculty and staff will hear when they arrive in Italy on June 7.

Stacy Harkness, English senior, said, “This will be my first time out of the country. I’m really excited to go to Italy. I’ve always wanted to go there, ever since I could remember.”

Alice Bendinelli, assistant professor of English, is coordinating the event. She said, “We had a lot of people sign up for the trip, but there will only be three students going.”Although many students weren’t able to go, Bendinelli believes the group will still have a lot of fun, and the students will learn a lot about the culture.

“I can’t wait to go to Rome,” said Harkness. “To get an opportunity to see the different diversity there, and to get to experience the architecture such as the amphitheatre, renaissance, and medieval buildings is something I will never forget.”

Bendinelli said, they will take many trips to museums and she is hoping to schedule a trip to the Santa Maria delle Grazie to see the “Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Bendinelli said students will experience different types of transportation. Students will experience taking the bus and the metro and will also get a chance to ride in a gondola. “It’ll be different than what they see in the movies. For example, they will not see chickens riding on the laps of the drivers and people walking around with barrels of wine around their necks,” said Bendinelli.

Students will experience real Italian food.

“There is definitely going to be a food theme. They will get to experience home cooked meals. Since I’m from Italy, they will get to meet my family and eat dinner with them,” said Bendinelli. “We will also be going to a vineyard and we will go see a cheese maker to see how Parmesan cheese is made.”

It wasn’t an easy road for students to go on the trip. There are many steps that have to be completed to take a trip out of the country.

Ashlee Alley, director of campus ministry, said, “In order to take a trip out of the country with students a form has to be filled out by faculty and staff, and then it has to be okayed by the school. It takes a lot of research and planning to take a trip out of the country, but the students get an experience they never will forget.”

Students also have to get a passport and figure out how to pay for the trip.

Harkness said, “The process of getting the passport and loans were rough to go through and get. Taking a trip to Italy is worth all that though. Italy is a once in a life time opportunity, and I didn’t want to pass it up.”

To get a passport, students submited an application along with evidence of U.S. citizenship, current identification, application fee, and two passport photos. It can take up to four months for a passport to arrive in the mail.

Once students arrive back in Kansas on June 28, the experience isn’t over.

“If you have taken the Italian Language class before the trip, the students can apply to earn three credit hours for the trip. They will also be writing a paper and giving a presentation about the trip,” Bendinelli said. “If the student has not taken the class they still can earn one credit hour for going on the trip.”

“It’s a challenge to be in a place that the culture is so different. At the same time it’s a humbling experience, and it helps you understand people that are the minority in our culture,” said Alley. “It makes you feel vulnerable, but it’s a good vulnerability. It’s an experience that helps you grow as a person, and that’s why I encourage every student to take a trip out of the country.”

Erica Dunigan is a junior majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail her at