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January 15, 2014

SUNY Delhi students say 'Ciao!' from Italy

By Jessica Reynolds Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — As you read this, 13 architectural technology students from SUNY Delhi are gazing upon the Piazza del Popolo, the Spanish Steps, the church of Santa Maria Maggiore and other celebrated architectural and historical sites in Rome.

The students are on the college’s first ever study-abroad trip to Italy, where they are taking a three-credit course, Architecture 371, “Architectural Theory: History & Architecture of the Italian Renaissance.”

Accompanying the students are SUNY Delhi architectural technology professors, Nana Andoh, Bob Fisher, and husband-and-wife duo Brook Denison and Janet Ho.

According to Andoh, the group has been in Italy since Jan. 2 and will return Jan. 19, just in time for spring-semester classes to begin. Their itinerary has taken them from Florence to Rome to Vicenza, and back again. They have visited the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo, the Pantheon, the Coliseum, the Arch of Constantine and many other popular architectural and historical destinations.

Andoh said via Skype on Tuesday that the students are very appreciate of the opportunity.

“We were lucky to get the group of students that we did,” Andoh said. “They are extremely well-behaved.”

SUNY Delhi Provost John Nader said Andoh has been working on putting together the trip for more than two years.

“I have to give an enormous amount of credit to Professor Andoh,” Nader said. “Many schools give their architecture students the opportunity to visit Italy, and we wanted to make sure our students got to go, as well.”

Andoh, who studied in Italy for a year in undergraduate school and for six months in graduate school, said he worked with an organization called the International Studies Association to put together a beneficial, affordable program for students. He said the all-inclusive trip and course cost each student $5,000. 

Andoh said a typical day in the study-abroad program consists of an early breakfast, followed by a walk to see buildings of historical significance and a coordinating lecture. He said students practice their design skills through various watercolor and sketching assignments. Depending on the day, Andoh said, the group may visit a museum.

“It’s a wonderful experience,” Andoh said. “Many of the students said they have seen these places in pictures or movies, but actually being here makes it a lot easier to relate to, and allows them to see and appreciate the architectural designs on a much more magnified level.”

Andoh said he has enjoyed getting to know the students better on the trip, especially on days when they are together from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., sightseeing, learning, honing their design skills and communicating with the locals.

“The students are immersed in the culture and have been engaging with the people here,” Andoh said, “who live their daily lives around such important structures. The language barrier was a bit of a shock to the students, but they have learned how to communicate efficiently in their own ways.”

Nader said SUNY Delhi has put a lot of emphasis on experiential learning recently. Along with the students in Italy, he said, there are 17 SUNY Delhi Veterinary Science students currently studying in South Africa. He said he hopes both of the study-abroad programs will continue to grow.

“Italy is a great place to study the foundation of Western architecture,” Nader said. 

Andoh said he is planning on bringing students on the trip every year around this time.

“It’s a great chance for them to practice their technique in a very hands-on way,” Andoh said. “It is inspiring to be here, around such passion and history.”