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Eric: Classes and Profs at Accent in Rome

March 14, 2011

So I was finally able to speak to my mom over Google calling, which was completely free and functioned very well despite cutting out every once in a while. She requested that I talk about my professors here in Rome and go in depth on the nature of my scholastic experience.  I agree and cannot believe that I have neglected to write about this very important part of the journey.  So here it goes.

I am enrolled in four courses and an internship.  I am taking a marketing course, made in Italy, a course on sustainability, Italy a case for sustainability, a communications course, Italian media, and last but certainly not least an Italian language course. All of my classes are in the same room, which is a smaller classroom and features a white board, a LCD projector, a laptop, a space heater, 15 desks, and a window that overlooks the atrium.  The school is housed in a building that was built in the 15th century and was intended to be used by the Vatican.  The building is old, but feels light and fresh.  The administration part of Accent is housed in a different part of the building down the hall from the UofM classroom building.

The plaza that our school is in is piazza l’orologio which houses a church that has a wonderful clock that faces a clearing that is cobbled over and a common meeting area for students.

My teachers are some of the most wonderful people I have ever met.  All of my professors are fluent in several languages and teach at the center part time. I will begin discussing my Profs in order that I meet with them through the week.

First there is Fabianna who is a typical Italian working professional.  She is beautiful, stylish, intelligent and kind.  She frequents class with thousand dollar purses, fantastic scarves and footwear.  She has tan olive skin and wears tasteful makeup.  Her full time job is for Salvatore Ferigamo as a marketing liaison for the US markets.  She has worked in the United States in Florida, New York, and California.  Fabianna also has extremely important and noteworthy personal connections such as Luis Vuitton, executives in Prada, Gucci and I am sure many other important luxury brands that do business in Italy that she has not mentioned.  Her class is as interesting as she is.  She also invites her friends to come give guest lectures about doing business in Italy and reinforce the “Made in Italy” reputation.  There are no tests, and no official homework or essays.  The grade will be completely based upon a final project in which the class was split into pairs to complete.  The projects is to create a product idea and develop a business plan in which the groundwork for launching the brand in a US market with limited startup capital is available to synthesize a common situation that new Italian brands a faces with.  The project will be graded on originality, innovation, presentation, timeliness and respect for the 50,000 euro budget.  In the project detail there is talk of a “lucky winner” which I am thinking might be an opportunity to turn the business plan into a business reality which would be incredible.  I am partnered with a friend and likeminded student and have developed a plan that we think is likely to be successful, in which case we are determined to win and hopefully be aided in turning our dreams into reality which could change my life drastically.

My Italian professor is a man of the world who speaks English, Italian, French, Spanish and Arabic.  He is full of energy and absolutely hilarious. I cannot say enough nice things about this man! The class size is small with only six of us in the classroom so there is no way to blend in and not be persuaded to learn the language.  In addition to our classroom practice we have gone to the coffee shop near our school. Bar Amore¸ and a fruit and vegetable market in Campo Di Fiori.  At the coffee shop we were treated to a coffee as long as we ordered in Italian which was really fun, albeit something that I do on a daily basis.  At the fruit market we were given the task of asking vendors how much ten items cost per kilo in Italian.  In order to accomplish this feat we needed to use our salutations, knowledge of different fruits and veggies, numbers and any other niceties that were thrown to us. 

Next up in my week is my class on sustainability which is taught by Sergio.  He is a native of the Umbria region and a traditional European academic.  My Ruffino reminds me of James Lipton from the show Inside the Actors Studio. He typically wears a nice pair of shoes, slacks, sweater, and a very nice scarf.  He is most likely in his sixties and teaches simply because he likes to.  Sergio is independently wealthy and owns a penthouse in one of the most desirable areas of Rome.  I know this because he graciously invited our class into his home for a cooking class by Fiori, his friend and personal chef.  For the meal we went shopping at Campo di Fiori market essentially in his front yard where we purchased tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and fresh clams.  I have a background in professional cooking so I aided Fiori in the production of our lunch and have enjoyed this experience almost more than anything that I have done in Rome so far.  We prepared three courses: Caprese salad, which is simply tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella drizzled in olive oil and Basil.  This dish is served with a baguette and is creamy flavorful and an excellent way to start off a lunch.  The next course was spaghetti with the clams.  This course was prepared simply with oil, garlic, clams, class juice, and white wine.  Dried spaghetti was boiled and the starch that remained on the outside of the pasta mixed with the liquid used to cook the clams and created a delicious and light sauce which paired excellently with the crisp sunny weather we were having that particular day.  Our final course was Rum Baba which is a desert that is traditional to Naples.  This dish is sort of similar to a muffin that is soaked in rum and covered in apricot jelly and un- sweetened whip cream.  The dish was beautiful, sweet and was rich while remaining light and airy.  The sweetness of the sugared rum was offset by the un-sweeted whipped cream and given an interesting perfume from the Rum vapors that hit the palate when the cake was bitten into.  Fiori has a wonderful espresso maker and treated us to a shot of espresso to finish off the meal before we parted ways.  Unfortunately Sergio was unable to be present during the dinner because he had a doctor appointment which could not be missed, but his presence was felt in the personality of his home which was light artful and intelligently decorated in a simple Scandinavian fashion.

Last but not least is my communications teacher Sean-Patrick. Sean is one of the most talented professors I have ever encountered.  He is a champ at reading body language and completely throwing away his planned lesson to diverge and elaborate on subjects that the class is interested in hearing.  “Do not tell them what you want to say, tell them what they NEED to hear.” This is an original quote by Sean and it is his philosophy on communication.  Sean is a busy man but he pulls off an extremely complicated schedule without breaking a sweat.  Sean’s day job is heading up the Vatican radio station, in which he is in personal contact with the Pope.  His office is in control of all information broadcasted via the Vatican’s personal radio station.  Sean also travels with the pope as a communications aid.  Sean is from South Africa and from what I understand ran away from home at a young age and was given a unique opportunity to work for the Vatican and become a important member of the catholic church.  Sean also teaches in North Africa to impoverished village youth on issues that may be able to help the villagers increase the quality of life and provide a more stable future for members of their community.  He used to organize a transfer ship program for the Africans in which the most talented student would be given the opportunity to study at prestigious EU universities until they had a run of students who refused to return to Africa and complete the task they were trained for.  Now he prefers to bring his services directly to the people who actually need it a few times a year.  A highlight of the class has been a private tour of the restricted Vatican gardens in which we were allowed access to a portion of the world very few people will ever see.  We were behind St Peters basilica and were taken into the original radio station which was the first in the entire world.  We were also allowed to climb the many stories up to one of the towers of the Vatican wall and get an unmatched view of Rome which was 360 degrees of unrivaled beauty.  In addition to being our professor and a crucial member of the Vatican news team he is my personal internship advisor and mentor.  I met him in his personal office which is the sound room for the pope in which he gives his radio broadcasts.  He is kind and caring and has taken a particular liking to me which makes me so very happy.

In addition to my classes I am participating in an internship which I spoke about in a previous post.  Last night though I was given the amazing opportunity to participate in the birthday celebration for my Boss’s girlfriend at Alessandro’s apartment.  A wonderful night was had by everyone full of food, wine, laughter and a mutual desire to learn about everyone’s take on culture, politics, music, love and everything else that we talked about through the course of the evening.  Everyone in attendance was smart, multi lingual, young and wealthy.  I had another rare opportunity to be a passenger on a new friend’s motor scooter.  Claudia is my new friend and she is a smart young woman who works for a bank and happened to become close with my cousin last summer while she was working abroad.  She is amazing and was kind enough to join me at the party and speak English with me while everyone spoke Italian.  It was nice to have someone who was not already acquainted with the group along with me in order to have someone who was willing to sit back with me and keep me comfortable.

Well I suppose that is enough for the day and I hope to have pictures up soon of what I see on a typical day to add some imagery to my words and help everyone step into my world in Rome!!

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