During the first week of the semester, new NYU Florence students were jet lagged, struggling to unpack, meeting new faces at orientation week, discovering Conad, and marvelling at the Duomo. Some of us needed to adjust to the nonchalant staring of local Italians, and some of us continually failed to bring our own bags to the grocery store. We fell in love with Za Za, Gusta Pizza, and Edoardo’s gelato. It took a lot of time management to juggle booking flights, travelling, academics, and connecting to people back home. Regina Onorato, an NYU Washington Square senior, reflects that studying abroad has “made me more aware of my identity. Trying to adjust to a new language and culture is tough, but rewarding.” While studying abroad, students often undergo a lot of self-exploration and are challenged to rethink their established beliefs and perspective. This is the spirit of LPD – to encourage a deeper exploration of important issues and topics in the humanist tradition of Florence.
We explored many important themes throughout the semester, some of which overlapped. Many dialogues explored identity – gender, sexual, cultural, national, political, social and racial identity. Some dialogues that stimulated conversations about this were Anthony Appiah’s “Mistaken Identities,” Deborah Willis’s “Posing Beauty,” and Jack Halberstam’s “Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Guide to Gender Variance”– all part of our “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion” series. Our very own Jordan Smith, NYU Washington Square junior, hosted her own conference called “Transforming Fashion,” which explored “the relationship between the construction of gender and the potential for transgender activism in the fashion industry.”
Many dialogues encouraged the use of art to initiate political change and activism, such as Eileen Myles’s talk on poetry, and Patricia Cronin’s on art. NYU Washington Square junior Wendy Koranteng’s “We the Students” event discussed the “mobilization of identity and revolutionary activism” in a very informal, open roundtable setting. She reflects: “We The Students gave me an opportunity to connect. Both the students and guests involved had the opportunity to discuss the things we found important on a personal yet intellectually stimulating level – we had dialogue… I learned that my peers, like myself, are as intrigued, yet confused as I am regarding political social issues.” NYU Florence students Yana Chala and Alice Huang’s “Empowering Women in STEM” dialogue advocated for the presence of female roles in the STEM fields. They addressed the importance of breaking stereotypes in order to have a more diverse and inclusive workplace within the STEM fields, as well as for the grander society.
Students also had the opportunity to gain a comprehensive view of the world and the political sphere through dialogues such as Guy Ben-Porat’s “To Serve and Protect,” Imma Vitelli’s “Women in War,” and the EU in focus series which culminated in the trip to Brussels. Diana Siu, NYU Abu Dhabi sophomore, states, “The Brussels trip was a valuable hands-on experience for students to understand the workings of the EU, and is definitely one of the highlights of my semester.” Adriano Albarosa, NYU Shanghai junior, reflects, “I have learned a great deal from the EU in Focus series in the lead-up to the Brussels trip. They gave us the basis which we needed to know to understand in greater detail once we arrived in Brussels.” Students also took on the role of reporting Trump’s first 100 days of administration by bringing together three of NYU’s global sites, Florence, London, and Washington, D.C. Henry Clarke, University of Chicago sophomore, the Trump 100 Days project leader, reflects that he has gained a “newfound appreciation for [political] activism.”
LPD was able to create a safe space for us to come together and discuss topics and issues with the grander goal of contributing good to the world and igniting positive change. For Michail Schwartz, LPD Assistant, his vision for LPD is for students to understand that the critical issues have more nuances and depth than we may initially perceive. He hopes that LPD can create a climate for students to share with and be influenced by others. For Megan Metters, LPD Coordinator, LPD is about building bridges between different fields to construct a complete and interesting conversation about some of the most important issues of contemporary society. She encourages students to be proactive, ask questions, and reach out to people. Metters believes that these experiences will have lasting effects on one’s life.
The LPD team hopes that you had a fun and fruitful semester, and we wish you the best of luck on all of your endeavors!