Spring 2013, Issue I-II
Warm greetings from Naples!
Hello from this bustling city in Southern Italy!
Our semester students have been here for quite a while now! Actually, more than half of their study abroad stay in Naples has already elapsed - it's unbelievable how time flies, they say! And we resident staff feel the same way...
Lots of things have been going on since their arrival, so in this issue of our newsletter - that exceptionally conjoins issues I and II! - we'll make an effort to sum up some of the most interesting events, and concurrent reflections and observations that have sparked.
Upon Arrival: Orientation Highlights
Roommates and Buddies
As usual, our bunch of young Americans are greeted, upon arrival, by an expecting and welcoming bunch of host institution students. Not only are CIEE students housed in nice apartments in central Naples together with local roommates; each student is also assigned a language and culture peer, also known as "buddy". During the semester, the roommates and the buddies not only provide support, but also create, together with the Americans, a nice intercultural community - one that provides, we hope for everyone, an opportunity to question clear-cut distinction between here and there, "my" culture and "your" culture. Here is a shot of our international bunch in the days of the Orientation:
"On my travels, I tried to use soccer - its fans, its players, and its strategies - as a way of thinking about how people would identify themselves in this new era. Would they embrace new, more globalized labels? Would people stop thinking of themselves as English and Brazilian and begin to define themselves as Europeans and Latin Americans? Or would these new identities be meaningless, with shallow roots in history? Would people revert back to older identities, like religion and tribe?" (from F. Foer, "How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization")
Castel Sant'Elmo and Cappella Sansevero
While Orientation entails, of course, a quantity of information concerning health, safety, culture, academics and more, we also like to take the students around and help get them acquainted with their new environment. Roommates and buddies also take part in the Orientation and that's when CIEE and local students start knowing each other. This year one of the buddies, Fortuna, was our special guide to Cappella Sansevero in the historic center - she really knew a lot about it, as well as about some "modern" legends Neapolitan Students have developed about it! Historically, this chapel was commissioned by Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero, one of the most fascinating and controversial figures in Neapolitan history: writer, freemason, scientist, and alchemist. The chapel is a tribute to the most mysterious and extravagant currents of Baroque - statues frozen in mid-movement, glazed marbles, and enigmatic symbols.
During Orientation we also take the opportunity to use the public transportation system together, so that the students may start having an idea of how to reach other parts of the city. We rode the subway to the neighboorhood on the Vomero hill. On top, 13th century Castel Sant'Elmo, a stronghold originally built during the Angevin dynasty, offers one of the most spectacular views of the city.
Throughout the semester, according to a formula that we have consolidated since last Spring, CIEE students and their respective "buddies" undertake several cultural and language exchange activities together:
Field Trips and Cultural Activities Highlights
This semester, students have visited the Catacombe di San Gennaro.
We walked up to the Madre del Buon Consiglio, almost on the top of the hill of Capodimonte. It’s a white, huge, quite monumental church next to a park; and then, up there, we entered this underworld, this incredible set of stairs heading somehow below the hill – in the belly of it. Almost like Alice, somehow ‘falling’ in a sort of pit, we featured ourselves in one of the sites of the Ancient Necropolis of Neapolis, and the largest catacomb complex in Southern Italy.
The Catacombs of San Gennaro are an extensive network of tunnels, ambulatories, cubicles, and large chapels built on three underground levels (the lowest floor was recently discovered and is under study). We were amazed by this cavernous burial chamber, burrowed into the volcanic rock. This place was the preferred burial place of Roman noblemen and the first burial site of Naples during the 2nd century AD: holy poltergeist... : ) Of special interest is the small Baslica of Sant'Agrippino – part of the visit – which is decorated with contemporary art works and still used today and at the same time displays frescoes dating 2200 years ago.
Then there is the story of the remains of San Gennaro: very nomadic remains indeed – probably for their being so miraculous. In the 5th century the relics of the Patron Saint of Naples were moved here; and then moved to Benevento in the 10th century; and then moved again in the 12th and 15th centuries, finally being interred in a special crypt beneath the Naples Cathedral that was commissioned by Cardinal Carafa… although his tomb – as well as the oldest known portrait of him dating to the 5th century – are still here, in his eponymous catacombs.
Coming up before the end of the semester is our overnight field trip to Sicily - this time we're visiting the second gib After that, we will be kayaking in the bay of Naples, along the beautiful, rocky coastline of the Posillipo promontory.
Naples Highlights: What's Been Going On?
Next to the usual lively cultural offer occurring in the city and the region, this Spring Naples has been the spectacular backdrops for some spectacular events. More on those in the next newsletter! But we shouldn't really miss this chance to publish here and now some more breathtaking student pictures. This Spring the Naples bay has been the site of a number of exciting regattas of the America's Cup World Series. Our students, as well as thousands of Naples citizens and visitors, have gathered on the seafront to watch them and to admire the sheer natural beauty of the bay embracing this event.
Before I say goodbye for now, I want to remind you that you can check us out on Facebook as "Ciee Naples".
We hope to have a chance to help your students make the best of an experience in a place as full of history, cultural opportunities, and amazing people such as Napoli!