Some Work and Some Play

By: Ashley Iadanza

Like a majority of the world’s population, I watch the news. I’ve heard about the places that were devastated by natural disasters- Haiti, Hurricane Katrina, etc- but aside from Hurricane Sandy, I never actually witnessed destruction. Last Wednesday, our group walked around the city of L’Aquila, an area devastated by an earthquake seven years ago. One would think that progress would’ve been made by this point, but that’s far from what’s happening with this city. We walked by a dorm in complete shambles, with the start and end date to reconstruction long gone, and nothing had been done. A city with so much to offer was almost completely deserted, and almost no promise of a turnaround happening anytime soon. The experience was an emotional one, and I was thankful to be hiding behind a screen filming it so I wouldn’t have to deal with my feelings right then and there. We got to talk with a local, Giovanni Mangione, who showed us around along with some of the folks from the organization Shoot4Change. Shoot4Change has done so much to try and bring awareness to L’Aquila, so we’ve been trying to learn more about them to bring awareness to them.

Being one of five productions students on this trip, I’ve been involved in creating a video to showcase Shoot4Change and all that they are doing for L’Aquila. It’s been a very exciting experience being able to not only work with the professionals at Shoot4Change, but to work with my peers and be apart of something so special has been incredibly fulfilling.

As for the rest of the weekend, we had some time to relax and explore other cities in Italy. We visited Florence, Venice, and Tuscany which gave us the opportunity to live out the tourist life to the max. We got to barter for leather in Florence, explored Venice (with some more shopping), and got to learn about wine in Tuscany. Florence was definitely my favorite city out of the three as a place to possibly live for the rest of my life.

Another week filled with amazing opportunities. All of this is thanks to our wonderful leaders, Professor Hillebrand and Professor Morosoff, as well as the people at bus2alps (shoutout to Jordan and Shields!) for making the weekends so incredible. We have a week and a half left, and I don’t want to go. The separation anxiety will be real, but for now, I’m just going to enjoy every moment.


Hofstra Romans Visit L’Aquila

By: Sara Whitman

Wednesday was a super special day. We traveled to L’Aquila, which is one of Shoot4Change’s big areas upon which they want to shed light after it has not been rebuilt following a devastating earthquake.

What we came across with S4C is far worse than I imagined: homes completely in ruins, piles of rubble along the roads, a sliced open university. The streets of this poor town did not look like it had been struck by disaster 7 years ago; I would have believed if someone told me it hit one year ago. Apparently, there are funds available towards rebuilding L’Aquila, but politics keep getting in the way. It truly brought feelings of sadness and despair over me, and I wish there was something more I could do to help.

The most help I could provide, however, was working with Shoot4Change with my class to help spread awareness to not just Italians or Europeans, but to more English speaking countries. That is one of the tasks my class wants to undertake, so with not much direction in mind besides the idea of a new promotional video, we were determined to make a great video for S4C and L’Aquila. We had a series of interviews set up, but due to strict bus driving regulations, we had to leave early and miss two of our interviews. We were fortunate enough to interview Andrea, the head of the Rome branch of S4C, Dario, another volunteer from S4C, and a first responder who helped when the earthquake struck. It was a an enriching experience watching the film students set up cameras quickly for the interviews and the public relations students working together to delegate tasks and create interview questions.

I feel so fortunate that we got to meet and hear from people so directly involved in the earthquake and its aftermath. The first responder explained how it was so fresh in his head. He told us about a surgeon who worked on victims around the clock, and who unfortunately lost his wife and daughter in the quake. Dario sorrowfully told us he wants to be involved and make a difference because he lived in L’Aquila and lost one of his good friends in the disaster. The only big issue was the fact that Dario and the first responder speak Italian, so Andrea had to give us a summary of their answers. This actually ended up changing the direction that our video will take, but hey, it’s just a small detour in the long road!

I am excited to see what comes of our day in L’Aquila and continue this journey with my fellow Hofstra Romans.


Week One isn’t Even Over Yet…

By: Ashley Iadanza

It’s only Wednesday and the first week at Rome is already so overwhelming, but in the best possible way. We’ve already seen Le Domus Valentini, the Monument of Victor Emmanuel, the Trajan’s Column, Piazzas Venezia, Campidoglio, and we are visiting Vatican city today. I have to say my favorite place to visit was Piazza Venezia. Here they have the Italian version of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Apparently, the natives think it’s ugly, but it honestly took my breath away. I’m very thankful our professor encouraged us to go to the top because you can see all of Rome from there. It’s the most beautiful site I have ever seen. It was one of those moments where nothing seemed impossible. I genuinely feel that if no one gets to experience this when they go to Rome it is a real loss.

I also really enjoyed the trip to the Vatican city. Getting to see all of the artwork created so long ago, and see that it is still intact is amazing. When we walked into the Sistine Chapel, it took my breath away. I never in my life thought I was going to get to see it in person, and there I was, standing there, looking up at the ceiling getting to see a masterpiece.

Another really important and cool thing we got to do this week was meet with this Non-Profit called Shoot4Change. We got to meet Andrea Ranalli, who is in charge of the Rome headquarters for the organization, in person, as well as several other volunteers. We got to pitch to them ideas to get their name out there so everyone is aware of all the amazing things that they are doing. The production students got to experiment with 360 cameras that we brought over from Hofstra and it was extremely exciting. We can’t wait to use this technology for some of the projects that we will be working on with them.

It was an amazing experience getting to apply things I’ve been learning the past few years and applying them to real life. The #SCOinRome2016Squad of 11 is strong and I am so excited to see how everything plays out. We’ve only just begun and we’re already so passionate about our work with Shoot4Change. It will be a great experience to share with those that read our blog within the next few weeks!

Next stoP: Rome

by Professor Jeff Morosoff

“Nothing of any importance could be undertaken anywhere in Europe at the time (the Renaissance) without first travelling to see what the Italians had lately been up to and what they had recently discovered or invented.” 

Thus wrote Luigi Barzini in his famous 1964 treatise The Italians: A Full-Length Portrait Featuring Their Manners and Morals, which I’ve been reading as I prepare for my own big adventure: a month in Italy as a faculty leader in Hofstra’s “SCO in Rome” study abroad program. Hofstra University’s Randy Hillebrand and I, along with 11 students majoring in either public relations and television, will begin our travels next weekend for a unique learning experience.

shoot4change_logoWe’ll be working with Shoot4Change, a Rome-based nonprofit organization, described as “comprised of both professional and amateur photographers, designers, artists and other dreamers who share part of their time for shooting humanitarian reportages for non-government and other social organizations which connects stories and storytellers.” The group uses social networks and new visual communication tools as “weapons of mass storytelling to raise awareness on local social issues through the engagement of our community.” Shoot4Change also runs free educational programs for “those who cannot afford it (refugees, homeless, disadvantaged people, etc.) because everybody should have a chance to learn how to express himself and unleash creativity for social change.”

Our students will serve as a public relations and production agency for Shoot4Change by creating content for its website and social media, and working on special projects within fascinating locations.

Every student I’ve known who has studied abroad has come back with a much-broadened world view and a life experience that many say has changed them forever. Having never been to Italy myself, I’m expecting the same result. The opportunity to connect and work with colleagues in a different country is a thrilling prospect, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.  I’ll be tracking and blogging about our work in the coming weeks, as well our students. Like the quote in Barzini’s book, we, too, want to learn what the Italians have been up to lately. Your thoughts?

Skyping Across the World

Skype call with Antonio and Andrea.

By: Sara Whitman

I just skyped with two Europeans. One was in Rome and the other was traveling who knows where in Europe. The things that technology can do are amazing. Even more amazing, however, are the projects these two Europeans I connected with are using technology for and the fact that I get to work with them this summer.

During my Roman study abroad trip through The Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, better known as “SCO in Rome,” I will be working with a nonprofit called “Shoot4Change.” This group binds together amateur and professional photographers, videographers, designers and artists who shoot humanitarian exposures. The group’s motto is “Shoot Local, Change Global.” The aim is to engage in photo storytelling to bring local social issues to life, free of charge. S4C believes that information can change lives and that everyone should be free to express his views and opinions.

The group of students and I, also known as the self-dubbed “Hofstra Romans,” are super excited to dive into Roman culture by working with S4C. So far, we plan to help with some of its biggest projects: documenting the serious political consequences from the earthquake in L’Aquila that destroyed the area several years ago and the Syrian refugee crisis. The gentleman we skyped with, Antonio Amendola, the founder of the Shoot4Change, and Andrea Ranalli, seemed equally enthusiastic.

The next time we speak with them, it will be in person in Rome, Italy. Stay tuned for more updates!