August is always a busy time for International Programs. The month begins by concluding the summer study abroad semester and ends by kicking off the fall study abroad semester. To capture both of these semesters in this newsletter, we asked two summer HUF students, Lisanne Cheatham and Emma Smith, to share their thoughts on their summer at HUF.
However, before we get to those two reflections, please check out the following photos to catch up with HUE and HIZ. HUE was the first fall program to depart the US on August 22nd. The group first landed in Iceland for a week of touring the beautiful country. This included visits to scenic waterfalls, the Northern Lights, glacier hikes and more! You can see some of these activities below. The group has now arrived in London and is taking in all that the city has to offer.
HIZ departed from Searcy on August 25th and has settled into life on the Namwianga Mission in Zambia. The final picture before the HUF reflections below shows the HIZ group at a lodge in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.
HUE and HIZ will have many more adventures throughout the semester, as will HUA and HUG once they depart in September. We will cover those events in the coming months. Until then, we hope you enjoy the deep dive into HUF Summer 2022.
HUF Summer 2022 Reflections
by Lisanne Cheatham
Dozens of Harding students and their faculty sponsor made their way to Florence, Italy, this summer for a semester of study. As we arrived at the villa located in Scandicci, our home away from home, HUF Director Robbie Shackelford gathered us together and gave us three principles to live by and strive for during our time abroad. The rule that stood out to me most was to “aggressively seek beauty.”
How do we seek beauty in Florence? The obvious answer is through its art and architecture. Walking through the Uffizi Gallery, home of the world’s premier collection of Italian Renaissance works, the beauty aggressively sought us. It surrounded us through statues, meticulously hand-carved in marble, lining the hallways. Beauty was present in each brush stroke of the artists who created the pictures covering every wall. Even the ceilings adorned with frescoes and gold leaf screamed beauty.
What I did not expect to see was so much beauty in people. Not only did I find beauty in my fellow travelers, but also through the many individuals I met in Florence and throughout Europe. I saw beauty in Ivo, a fashion week model in Milan who shared his story of finding his way in the fashion industry at just fifteen years old. I found beauty in Jane from Manchester, who made it her goal to show us true Greek culture in Santorini. I experienced beauty in the humble, dedicated congregation in Florence, who welcomed us warmly for worship despite language barriers. I saw beauty in the many artisans Robbie introduced to us, who showed us that a hobby or passion is worth pursuing.
We were engulfed by beauty in Florence this summer, as many of history’s greatest artists and architects spent time living, working and creating there. Their work and studies survive in the churches, bell towers, or plazas that seem to mark every block and surprise us around every corner. In reality, however, the truest beauty was found in every member of our HUF group and in the people we met along the way. We were blessed to share our lives, studies, and experiences with people from all corners of campus, from different years, majors, clubs and backgrounds. As we joined together to aggressively seek beauty in Florence, we discovered additional masterpieces in each other.
by Emma Smith
Summing up HUF in just a few paragraphs seems like an almost impossible task because how does one sum up a summer chock full of experiences like climbing Brunelleschi’s duomo, staring up at the statue of David, exploring the Roman colosseum, gazing at the leaning tower of Pisa, floating along the Venetian canals and even relaxing on the most beautiful beaches of the Italian islands of Capri or Sicily? Every second of every trip around this beautiful country left me with my jaw dragging on the floor in awe-inspired amazement.
We left May 15th and I knew absolutely no one on the trip, everyone was a stranger to me. Everything was new and exciting. My legs bounced faster as we got closer to our destination. The anticipation on the flight to Florence was almost unbearable. I had almost no clue of what I would get to see or do and couldn’t wait to find out.
Growing up I heard stories of my grandparents meeting abroad at a program called Project Italy. In northern Italy my mother was born, where she lived in Monfalcone until she was five. My mother’s family has always incorporated the Italian culture into their way of living and it always seemed foreign to me. Now, I no longer feel that way. For almost three months, God blessed me with the opportunity to immerse myself in the culture of Italy. I’ve learned phrases like “vorrei un cappuccino” meaning "I would like a cappuccino" (a phrase that came in handy for me) and “Grazie” meaning "Thank you" (also very handy, specifically after receiving a cappuccino).
I have never been a “history person.” I’ve always struggled in history classes and have had to devote extra time to those courses. Freshman year, I took Western Civilization as one of my liberal arts requirements. I remember thinking how hard that class was and I remember questioning why I needed to know any of it. It wasn’t until I saw the actual dome that Ross King writes about in his book, “Brunelleschi’s Dome,” did I appreciate all that I had previously learned and read years before. The structure and centerpiece of Florence was an incredible feat of its time. Brunelleschi did what no one else could do – finish the incomplete massive dome to top off Florence’s cathedral. And to my amazement I actually got to climb the dome! I saw close up the frescoes that had been painted on the inside of the dome. And I saw the entire city of Florence from the view from the top. From that moment I was a BIG fan of everything Florence. We went to a soccer game and learned the cheers to cheer on Fiorentina. We attended an American football game and we decked out in purple and red to support Florence Guelfi. We won both games by the way. Every experience taught us more and more about the Italian way of life.
While in Italy, I was tasked, through an honors assignment, with creating a storyboard and script for and informational film on Sicily. I learned more that I ever thought I would by scripting information about Taormina, Monreale, and Palermo – all of which were beautiful areas in Sicily with huge historical significance, home to the Riace Bronzes, Monreale cloister, and Capuchin Catacombs. I developed a new appreciation for Italian culture and landscape and hope to return again.
Additionally, I took a photography class, which I am SO grateful for because I learned the ability to beautifully capture some of the most beautiful and precious moments of our trip – like Michelangelo’s Pieta in the dim lighting of the oculus in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
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