New Kent State Florence program to welcome international students

Madison Patterson

Kent State Florence will begin offering a session specifically designed for international students for summer 2019.

The month-long session offers 10 classes, including Italian Mafia: History and Stereotypes and Italian Cinema. Students will be recruited from South Korea, Brazil, Australia and China, along with a small population of American, Kent State students.

The primary reason this new session is being instituted is to combat declining international enrollment numbers, said Associate Provost Marcello Fantoni.

“It’s one of the many strategies we are implementing to develop new forms of international enrollment,” he said. “We cannot leave any stone unturned.”

Recreating a diverse environment that goes beyond an international location is another goal of this new institution, he said. Not only will the student population be a smorgasbord of international identities, but the faculty and staff will also be diverse in national origin with Italian, American, Brazilian and South Korean professors.

Some students may not want or be able to study in the U.S. for a number of reasons, so Fantoni believes the Florence International Summer Institute is a roundabout way to provide an American higher education to those individuals.

“Getting a visa to come to America is a lot more complicated than coming to Europe,” he said. “I just returned from a trip to China and India. I might have been asked 50 times in two weeks about America being violent, campuses having crime … and restrictions on immigration. The perception of America is not at its highest point.”

The Florence Summer Institute was established in 2014 and since its installation, many of Kent State’s international partners have been invited, said Amber Cruxton, the associate director of education abroad.

However, the traditional summer program is held during June, which for many schools outside the U.S. is still during the regular school year, making enrollment impractical.

This new program will be held in July, a time when the facility has previously gone unoccupied, and make other accommodations for Kent State’s international partner institutions, she said. But otherwise, the experience will be fairly similar to the original program.

“There are social activities, the students stay in apartments located within the city, … (the courses) are all pretty comprehensive on the different attributes of Florence,” Cruxton said.

She is most excited for the diversity of thought in the classrooms of the Florence International Summer Institute.

“Can you imagine being a Chinese student, studying in Florence at an American institution being taught by a Brazilian instructor?” Cruxton said. “There are so many layers.”

Madison Patterson is the international students reporter. Contact her at [email protected]