IMMERSION: Making Experiences not just memories

Read Jill’s thoughts about her experience at The Core Florence 2013 Program.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.”- Benjamin Franklin.

This sums up the experience of Florence. We are immersed into a culture, one that has many parallels with our own, however on so many levels is different. The language, the food, the personal etiquette, the values, travel, amenities are so different from what we have in Australia but this is what makes Florence an amazing place to study.

We are so lucky to be speak English, so many of the locals have learnt the language to accommodate those such as myself who do not know the local language. It is seeing things like this and experiencing breaking down the language barrier that cements the issues that we are learning in our unit Contemporary Moral Problems. The ability for others to see things from other perspectives.

There is a strong sense of Religion in Florence. This is not only due to the fact that there are so many wonderful Churches and Religious buildings throughout the city but also because Religion has an impact on all parts of life. On our trip to Sienna (which is approximately 1.5 hours from Florence) this was also evident in the fact that before the historical Palio horse race in the city not only are the people blessed but so to each of the horses are taken into the Church and blessed before the race. The first thing the winning district will do at the conclusion of the race is head to the Church to show their thanks for the victory.

In Australia we realise that we are young, we have a history but the origins are based on and our land and on land a long way from our own. Here it is so different, the history is tangible. We look at buildings and roads and squares that were made in the 1300’s. To stand in-front of these and to go inside is amazing and to think that all those years ago people were walking the same path that we are today is an eerie sensation. The volunteer part of our unit is done with the Misericordia and they will be celebrating their 770 years of operation next year! I am looking forward to starting this work knowing all those years ago people like us were do the same things which extraordinary.

Florence is a wonderful city to learn the value of what it is where are here to learn, the diversity of the city helps us to see the impact that morals and ethics can have. Also our own ability to judge is questioned. We learn that different values and beliefs mean different constructs for making choices and forming ideas and this is something we must learn – an ability to understand.

I am looking forward to what is ahead, I feel so lucky that in only a short space of time I have been lucky enough to learn the value of this trip, I know that this will grow. With this view from my apartment (below) immersing myself in the culture will not be hard!