Signs of new life

File Under: Hands On Learning

During her college days, Alana Mercurio '16 studied in Orvieto, through Gordon College’s elite artists study abroad program in which only 18 students are accepted per year.

The goal of the program is to, “foster in our students an attitude of responsive looking and listening for signs of new life in the traditions inhabited by artists, poets, saints, and mystics of the past, especially those of pre-modern Europe in Italy. With a discerning eye neither nostalgic nor ironic, we wish to explore the disintegrated fragments of the classical-Christian civilization of the West, raiding the past in order to rebuild the present.”

Participants live in a renovated convent, which Mercurio described as “an amazing community-building experience.”

The young scholars took weekend trips to experience the country, visiting places like Rome, Assisi, Siena, and Florence.

Mercurio, a creative writing major, also visited neighboring villages during the week, where the students had opportunities to harvest grapes and olives, take in the scenic countryside, and write.

“Some of the experiences were so incredibly spiritual, I was knocked breathless by the beauty that surrounded me,” said Mercurio.

The experience taught Mercurio a lot about herself, including lessons about joy and ownership of mistakes.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a hard time at first,” she said. “Adjusting to change can be extremely difficult sometimes. But once I got over myself and opened my heart, everything changed drastically for the better.”

Mercurio hopes that other Malone students will take advantage of one of the numerous study abroad experiences available through the Center for Cross-Cultural Engagement.

“If you have the opportunity—GO!” Mercurio said. “No matter where you go, what program you do, who you meet, or how your experience goes, it will change your life for the better.”

Mercurio is now a communications assistant at Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill N.Y. on Long Island.