During the fall of my junior year, I studied with the Umbra Institute’s Food and Sustainability Program (FSSP) located in Perugia, Italy. Known for its gastronomic gems, extraordinary vista points, and rich history, Perugia, located in the region of Umbria, is home to many university students. It serves as a cross-cultural interface for locals, tourists, and students to interact in a place that has maintained a strong sense of tradition throughout time.
I chose the Umbra Institute’s FSSP because it combined my interests in food and sustainability with my passion for Italian language and culture. As both an Italian citizen and a descendent of Italian ancestors, I made it a priority when I arrived at Hamilton College to take advantage of the school’s Italian program and faculty. The logical next step was to figure out a way to find the interconnectivity between my many interests.
My semester in Perugia was remarkable. The curriculum was field-based, meaning that students had the opportunity to visit various farms, agritourism operations, and specialty food producers — and to learn from experts in various fields (no pun intended).The course of my semester abroad has proven valuable to the remainder of my undergraduate career as well as to postgraduate work. I returned to the U.S. feeling more independent, driven, and thirsty to explore and spark change.
Next fall, I will spend the semester in Washington, D.C., working to shape food policy. I hope to complete the spectrum of work surrounding the food system. I have experience planting seeds, but acknowledge that, through policy change, we must sow a new framework of thinking in the global mindset. Amassing all of this experience over the last few years, I have come to realize that much of our food system is organized and being worked in silos, divided by a lack of communication.
My time in Perugia, in particular having the ability to combine my various interests, has been an invaluable contribution to my undergraduate experience and furthering Hamilton’s mission. Hamilton’s philosophy of education speaks closely to my own in terms of understanding how so many components of a system — whether a biome or an airplane — work in such conjunction with one another.