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Planting tomatoes, fighting Mafia, contributing to legality: SUF launches contest for students to work in fields in Sicily
Planting tomatoes, fighting Mafia, contributing to legality: SUF launches contest for students to work in fields in SicilyApril 03, 2007SU News ServicesSUnews@syr.edu
In a profound example of integration and active exchange with the community, Syracuse University in Florence (SUF) has held a contest for all of its students — with the support of other regional institutions and the regional government — that provides a trip to Sicily for 12 winning students, who will spend the majority of their time volunteering in the fields of the southern Italian island.
All SUF students were asked to write about their conceptions of Southern Italy, looking closely at stereotypes and misconceptions, and comparing them to what they have experienced thus far or to their own experiences living in the United States. A jury of three faculty members, together with SUF Director Barbara Deimling, chose 12 entries out of nearly 50 that were submitted. The selected students won a trip to Sicily from April 12-15, supported by the Region of Tuscany, Arci Regionale Toscana and Mediateca Regionale Toscana, in conjunction with SUF.
The trip goes beyond checking off the highlights of Sicily’s beauty and artistic heritage. The students will volunteer most of their time, working in the fields confiscated from the Mafia by the Italian government that have become a high-profile, national symbol of public support in the country’s fight for legality. Thousands of Italian students go each year to work in these fields, planting tomatoes and harvesting grapes; SUF will be the first American university actively involved in this initiative, thereby supporting a complete and solid confirmation of legality.
“Organized crime remains a defining issue for Italians. It is also an issue that colors the perception of Italy from outside, from America,” says Deimling. “By providing our students examples of active engagement, we ask them to contribute to a better civil society. This is not just study abroad, not just academics, but Scholarship in Action.”
The winners were announced at an award ceremony April 3, covered live by Italian media, at which public authorities and politicians of the Region of Tuscany spoke to all SUF students about their fight against the Mafia and providing hands-on examples.
The 12 selected students are:
- Jacob Berman of SU’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
- Laura Brown of The George Washington University
- Michael DiNapoli of The George Washington University
- Allison Disbrow of Lafayette College
- Alana Edmunds of SU’s School of Information Studies
- Rebecca Evangelista of SU’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management
- Sara Furio of DePaul University
- Jacqueline Gallagher of SU’s College of Arts and Sciences
- Liam Schaefer of SU’s College of Arts and Sciences
- Johanna Tanzman of SU’s College of Arts and Sciences
- Jack Waldron of Fordham University
- Laura Werkheiser of Lafayette College
“I truly believe that you can only understand someone once you have walked in their shoes,” says Tanzman. “This contest gives us that opportunity and is a wonderfully progressive idea. It is important to keep informing the public on the contemporary issues around them and to keep opening doors for experiences that promote tolerance and understanding on a personal level.”
The initiative is a continuation of a collaboration that started a year ago between SUF and the Region of Tuscany on the theme of the Mafia and legality, when SUF and the Region of Tuscany co-sponsored a conference and round-table discussion on the Mafia that involved the presidents of the regions of Tuscany and Calabria, as well as the Italian attorney general responsible for Mafia investigations.