In this week’s internship meeting we discussed the concept of brain drain. When I first saw this topic on the schedule I assumed it would be some topic regarding mental exhaustion. I didn’t have any particular reason for this just an assumption based on the name. I was surprised then when instead the topic was actually about the drain of talent and intellect from a country as its citizens go abroad to find work. I had heard of the concept before but coming from America I had almost an opposite perspective on the problem. Rather than being the place that people are draining out of America is, for the vast majority, where people are draining into. This means that the US receives the positive end of brain drain, instead of losing skilled individuals America is far more prone to gain large numbers of individuals from places like India and China. This is unfortunately not the situation that Italy faces. Instead, Italy is the place from which, to be colloquial, brains are drained. This means that Italy faces a shortage of intelligent laborers, which as we discussed last week are becoming and will continue to become the most important workers in the employment landscape of the future. Part of the reason for this is that Italy’s youth unemployment levels are very high. This leads to many younger individuals to leave the country to find work and not return. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that Italy, like Japan though to a lesser degree, is an aging country. This creates the problem that more and more positions will be filled by career employees who don’t want to leave jobs they are comfortable in to make room for new employees. While this is a worse problem in Italy it is not uncommon in America either. A common critique for my generation is that we just don’t want a job enough to go out and find one. This ignores the fact that given modern job-finding conditions, such as positions already being filled and higher initial employment requirements, this is not that feasible. This problem has additional complications which pertain to my internship. As you probably know my internship is at the town hall in Arezzo. One of my first experiences was a conference in Bologna where the city was seeking out professional advice for a better performance evaluation system for their senior civil service. You see in Italy senior members of the government are extremely difficult to fire. This comes about from a combination of Italian laws and the power of unions in Italian society. This difficulty is true even if a senior civil servant is performing below evaluations, a near impossibility given that many define their own objectives to be measured by. This means that the Italian government is an even more difficult position in terms of trying to attract young talent because they are unable to be rid of even the employees they would like to be let alone the ones who actually do a good job.
The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Oklahoma, OU in Arezzo, or any other affiliated entity.
The Social Media Marketing Internship position that I hold has everything to do with digital marketing, social media strategy and creative content. I want to dig more into what I am responsible for throughout this internship. My first duty is updating the touchscreen that we have at the Monastery. I am responsible for making sure a new schedule is posted every week of our upcoming activities within OUA, as well as informing the viewers of various happenings that are going on in Arezzo. Second, I am in charge of the Social Media Contest that allows students to show off their amazing travels, experiences and friendships. At the beginning of every week, I choose the winner from the previous week, as well as announcing the contest theme. Students enter the contest by tagging OUA’s Instagram account into their pictures or using the hashtag #OUASMC17 (OUA Social Media Contest). The winner of each week gets a fun, new prize; some examples include American snacks that I get from Florence or a free OUA t-shirt. Additionally, I help run OUA’s social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Every week, I choose a student to do a Snapchat Takeover where they takeover OUA’s Snapchat account for a day. I often post to OUA’s various social media outlets about the student activities that happen here, delicious food that we experience, as well as reposting some of the students’ pictures. Lastly, I am in charge of OUA’s website. I choose someone every week to write a short blog post about life in Italy or some activity that they loved. This way, people are able to read detailed versions of how amazing Arezzo is.
Although I get to work at the Monastery – with OUA students and faculty – there are many cultural aspects that have opened my eyes to the way social media works. I have the opportunity to express to students back in Norman about the amazing opportunity that awaits them in Arezzo. Social media is constantly growing and becoming one of the most widely used ways of advertising and marketing for a product or brand. By using each media outlet, people are able to see what life is like in Italy, as well as get a taste for the culture that we embrace here. It also allows OUA to be recognized by locals and become more integrated into the Arezzo community.
Coming to Arezzo, I had no idea that I would be interning. I did not have an internship coming here, but when I knew the OUA Social Media Marketing Internship position was open, I jumped on the opportunity. One of the cool things about this internship is that I have the opportunity to work with Eneida, a University of Siena student, who sometimes helps me with various projects. It is so fun to work with an Italian student! I do not know much Italian, but most of everyone that I talk to absolutely loves practicing their English by talking to Americans. Since they are always learning the proper way to speak English in their classes, they like to engage in conversations that include different slangs and idioms. I have noticed that they always ask questions of how to say something, and it is really fun to be able to teach people the way we think and speak.
Personally, I believe this internship was made for me. I have said before that social media is such a big interest of mine, because I love being able to use my creativity in different ways – whether it’s creating advertisements or flyers, writing blog posts or captions, or producing content for Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I am a Public Relations major, so this internship was right down my alley. Digital marketing and strategy is a growing business in today’s world where technologically is rapidly advancing. It is really fun for me to have a lot of control over OUA’s marketing strategies, as well as working with other people to create the best account content.
One of my favorite parts about this internship is being able to work directly with OUA faculty. It is very apparent that they believe in my work ethic; they seek my advice for various concerns, they treat me like a professional and they support my work throughout challenging tasks. This is definitely not one of those internships where you run to get coffee for someone or stuff folders. This is a very hands-on experience that fully submerges you into the digital marketing field. While this internship is great experience for someone who is studying PR or Advertising, it is also great for someone who is just interested in working with social media or creative content. There is a wide range of things to be done, and I feel that this internship is good professional experience. It challenges you to use your time wisely, bring out your creativity and work on a team with professionals to enhance your brand.
One of the best parts about working with OUA is just that: working with OUA. It is convenient, flexible and comfortable. I am sure working as a social media intern at another company or brand would be just as beneficial for me as OUA’s internship is, but working with the very program that brought me to Italy automatically holds a special place with me. Before accepting this internship position, there was also another PR position open at a local museum. To be honest, I did not give much consideration to that one. The OUA Social Media Internship was something that fit my professional path like a puzzle piece, and I had no doubt in my mind that this was the internship that I wanted.
Social media marketing can be a stressful job at times. I am a very laid-back person that likes to go with the flow, but when it comes to the workplace, I like to have a schedule. If I could change one thing about this internship, it would be having a schedule. I like to know what I will be working on each day, or even each week, because it gives me time to prepare and come up with multiple ideas that could be used. With a short amount of time, it is difficult to be confident that the content I create is my best quality content. Having a schedule would allow me to brainstorm ideas and have more time to create the absolute best digital content for OUA. However, being allotted limited time allows me to practice my time management skills, as well as thinking and acting on my toes.
This internship has been incredibly beneficial for me. It is great experience in managing many types of media outlets at the same time and working with a team of professionals who also want the best branding. It is no question that this internship will strengthen my abilities. I am excited to see what the rest of the semester has in store!
The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Oklahoma, OU in Arezzo or any other affiliated entity.
The longer I stay in Italy, the more evident their economic crisis becomes. Fedderico confessed to me, one Sunday afternoon as we took a break from playing Scarabeo (the Italian version of Scrabble) with Lavinia, that he was worried about his daughter’s future. Lavinia, the vivacious eleven year old I teach how to paint on the weekends, attends school from Monday through Saturday and studies on average two hours every day after she gets home from her classes. She is perhaps the hardest working eleven year old I have ever known, and yet her father worries that it won’t be enough by the time she graduates from college. The current generation, my generation, has the highest average levels of education Italy has ever seen, but it also faces the highest unemployment levels of any generation currently living in the peninsula. Lucio Bianchi explained that it is a snake-biting-its-own-tail situation: Italians are having fewer children, the children currently attending school are not receiving an education that will prepare them for jobs after graduating college, there are so few jobs available for young adults because the older generation refuse to give up their positions based on a poor economy, young adults then become unemployed which further harms the economy, these same young adults have fewer kids because they simply cannot support them, and the cycle continues anew. What this has seen has been a massive emigration movement as Italians look abroad – usually Switzerland, as I’ve come to discover. In 2015, about 107,529 Italians between the ages of 18 and 34 moved out of their home country to look for jobs. Typically, they end up staying, and the generation gap back home continues to grow.
Olivia, my coworker at the Museo Archeologico asked me this morning if I wanted to come back to Italy to work after I graduate. I confessed that I really enjoyed the thought, and would be happy to do so if the fates allowed. She then frowned and her eyebrows furrowed. We spoke in the broken-English/broken-Italian way that has become our own sort of game as we try to meet each other partway to communication. She expressed, in not so many words, that the Italian economy was not so great right now, as lovely as the thought would be for me to return. She then pointed up with one finger, gesturing to the rest of the continent, “There are better opportunities in Europe.” A smile then crossed her face. “Like France”, she teased, knowing how much I love the language. Olivia mentioned two of her nieces. One is twenty eight and has been out of college for a while; she’s been searching for a job since graduation, with no luck. The other is twenty one and is exceptionally nervous about graduating because she fears the same fate.Olivia and I agreed that many millennials run themselves through the ground in student debt in order to stay in school longer, usually by taking up a minor or double majoring, and to delay the fear and – quite frankly the reality – of unemployment.
I admit it is a fear that I also hold. And I am not alone in this. Walking across OU’s campus, it is an undercurrent within every student I come across. Our futures are not as guaranteed as our parents’ were. In Italy, the average child does not leave the home of their mother and father until their lateis because they simply cannot afford to support themselves alone in such an economy. In the United States, society still tries to force teenagers out of home at the ripe young age of their late teens, whether or not they have a job, and to spend the next four years of their lives accumulating debt that stacks up to well over 40,000 dollars. The possibility that many of them – many of us – will never be able to pay that off is absolutely terrifying. In America, my generation grew up during the housing market crash. In Italy, they are still living in an economic crisis.
All that I can say thus far is that it has built inside of us a resilience. No, a determination. If we cannot rely on what once was, we must make our best lives in what is. Or better yet, make improvements for what will be. An unguaranteed future does not mean an unguaranteed present. We are extremely conscious of our decisions, and the consequences of them over the long term. I think an effect as well is that we enjoy the present moments more. We cherish them. It is something I have been very reflective of during my time here in Italy, and my time here at the museum as well. Maria Gatto has invited me to an international museum conference in Firenze next month. I plan on attending. With my whole heart, I want to be there and I want to learn as much as I can from that experience. These incredible women have inspired me to branch out, make connections, and to aim high in spite of all this. On November 15th there will be speakers at the Museum of Palazzo Vecchio from the Centre of Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, the Danish Centre of Arts & Interculture in Copenhagen, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, among many other museums across Italy itself. The future is certainly in flux, but I do not doubt that these experiences make for a better life. That is, after all, what I aspire to most of all.
The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Oklahoma, OU in Arezzo, or any other affiliate entity.
As this internship has progressed, and I have been more assertive with my communication and insight, this museum has evolved into a home in Arezzo for me. I am comforted by the history that surrounds me, blown away by the hardworking nature of my supervisors, and have seen the impact that my internship has on the community. I feel more confident in the opinions I can share, and I am being utilized more and more each day as I am learning the ins and outs of this unique and eclectic museum.
These past couple weeks I have moved from working on a visitor response survey, to restructuring the tours given at the museum, and also creating a workbook for kids so they can have an engaging experience with the antiques. I am getting to work with research, how guests perceive the museum around them, demographics, social media, and trying to quantify feelings, and it has so far been very fulfilling work. My next steps will be working on giving the tours myself, and gathering and interpreting the data from the surveys that are being completed. At times planning can be difficult; it is always a puzzle when we are comparing my class and meeting schedule to the museums hours and event schedule… But when I am working in the museum, I am lucky to be very passionate about the work that I am doing, and I always leave feeling accomplished.
Over the past few weeks of trial and error, I believe I am settling into the “feeling at home” phase of the cultural adjustment process. My “honeymoon” phase was quick but sweet as I was touring the museum and gallery, and getting to learn about the antiques that I would be writing about. The “culture shock” hit very quickly… As I would be greeted by guests, but could only hold small talk in Italian, it hit me how out of my comfort zone I was. My “gradual adjustment” to this new home of mine grew when I started to focus on the work that I was trying to complete, and challenging myself in phrases of Italian as I would hear them being spoken in the work place.
It Italy there are many phrases that can be useful in a working environment, such as simply saying “In bocca al lupo,” to wish someone good luck. “One example of a workplace conversation could be as follows:
Jess: “Vuoi che venga domani presto?”
Elisabetta: “Sì, Chi dorme non piglia pesci!”
Jess: “Va bene! Perché spero di finire il mio progetto.”
Elisabetta: “Uomo avvisato, mezzo salvato.”
Jess: “Vero, e questo progetto può richiedere tempo!”
In this conversation, Elisabetta is using a common Italian saying to let me know that I should come in early tomorrow, “because he who sleeps cannot catch fish.” And, if I know my project is going to take a long time, I should be in early to prepare, because it is best to be “forewarned to be forearmed.”
It is sometimes very difficult to feel at home when you are in a foreign place where you do not speak the language. Trying to learn a language is hard from scratch because “tra il dire e il fare c’é di mezzo il mare.” It is one thing to say you are going to learn another language, but it is a much harder task to commit to practicing it often and being open to embarrassment. It is all about perspective when you are learning or teaching something new. When there is miscommunication, or you are not understanding what your supervisor is trying to convey, it is important to not take things too personally. Work hard on what you can, memorize phrases and a lot of hand gestures, and be proactive and assertive in your learning. You will start to feel at home in no time.
“The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Oklahoma, OU in Arezzo, or any other affiliate entity.”
Greetings Earthlings, my name is Kash Barker, and I’m an Associate Professor and an Anadarko Presidential Professor in the OU School of Industrial and Systems Engineering. You may have seen me, and for part of the time, my wife Nina, hanging around from late September to late October – I was the cool guy.
Nina and I have been to 15 or so European countries, and some personal faves are Vienna, Barcelona, and Prague. And when I’m not thinking about my next lecture or eating at Pepe Delgado’s, I’m probably pining for an orchestra concert.
I’m originally from a little town called Pawhuska, OK (for better or worse, now known for The Pioneer Woman). I went to OU for BS and MS degrees, left for a PhD at the University of Virginia, and joined the faculty back at OU in 2008. I teach courses in applied engineering statistics and systems engineering, and my research interests lie in the reliability, resilience, and economic impacts of disruptions to infrastructure networks.
My 2017 trip to Arezzo was my third of hopefully many more to come. My classes, in Norman and in Arezzo, always end with pieces of advice from Uncle Kash, and one of those is “If you have a chance to go somewhere and experience life, do it.” As you’re living in central Tuscany for a semester (or longer), I’m preaching to the choir. But even in Arezzo, it’s easy to just hang out in the monastery and watch the new season of Stranger Things. Don’t do it! There are sights all over Italy to visit, and brand new experiences are a short train or plane ride away. Think about how much your plane ticket cost to get to Rome from Oklahoma City – you’ll have to pay that amount to come back to essentially any European city in the future (as opposed to the cheap weekend flights on Ryanair that you could buy now). You’ve got an opportunity that most students don’t have – take advantage of it!
One of the cool things about being a part of the OU in Arezzo program is the fact that OUA is a sister school with the University of Siena (UNISI) here in Italy. Two of the students who stay here at the Rooney Family Center are students at UNISI and have also become some of our closest friends. We also get to do fun things like have a pizza cook-off with UNISI students to see who can make the best and most creative pizza! It’s things like these that allow us to form bonds of culture, language and friendship all while experiencing Italy and strengthening the international community.
Part of our class credits here include a few town tours called “Get to Know Arezzo.” Recently, we had the chance to take a short road trip to Get to Know Siena! Siena is one of Italy’s most iconic cities where we had the chance to learn about the history of Siena and explore the town a little bit. It was actually really cool to see where our fellow Italian students and friends live and go to school. It’s amazing to see the differences between education and living, but one thing that remains the same is that we are all humans just trying to explore this giant world of ours!
We are about half way through the semester here at OUA. We have done our best to soak in the past two months, but it sure has gone by fast. We are continually growing as students, individuals and adults, and we are making the bets of these friendships, experiences and memories. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that studying abroad in Arezzo is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Ciao for now :)
My name is Kala (Kayla without the “y”) and I’m the 2017-2018 Graduate Resident Director here at OU in Arezzo!
“Woah, weird, what’s that mean?”
Basically, I’m a graduate student and I get to work at OUA. I’m studying Adult and Higher Education with an emphasis in Student Affairs and I’m taking all of my classes online. But that’s only part of what I do with my day! The rest of my time is spent with the OUA staff and students (and trying to make Italian friends). I help plan events, do normal paperwork things, advise our Student Activities Council, and help students with whatever may come at them.
As you might imagine, that can be anything from a broken alarm clock to homesickness to train travel and literally anything in between. And between you and me…
I love it.
That’s the job. Helping students with whatever I can is what I signed up for when I chose to go into Student Affairs.
Living in Arezzo, at the Rooney Family Center, is so different than any of my previous experiences abroad (and I am so thankful for it). When I was an undergraduate (OU class of 2013, B.A. in English with a minor in AFAM), I studied abroad in Ghana. I lived in a hostel for six and a half weeks and had the time of my life. Living and learning abroad, even for that short period, taught me so much about myself and the world around me. There’s something so intensely common in our humanity, despite how different we are. It was empowering.
So empowering, in fact, that I decided to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer after I graduated. I ended up living in a little town called Senaki in the Republic of Georgia. I spent three months in training in Georgia before moving to Senaki. During that time I learned Georgian (kind of) and tried to get my bearings in a totally foreign culture. The place I lived in Senaki, Garadoki, is a settlement for Internally Displaced People, or IDPs, from a war a little over 20 years ago.
You can probably imagine that going from developing countries to living in Italy was a shock. And indeed, it definitely was. Despite all of that, I’ve been reaffirmed in the idea that there is something common in our humanity. And even though sometimes living in paradise comes with its own challenges, I’m thankful to be here.
Italy reminds me so much of home. I spent my childhood playing hopscotch in the desert air with the Sangre de Cristo mountains, a comforting fixed point seen from my home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The walls of the buildings here, buildings that are older than the formal establishment of the United States, smell like adobe, and the tuscan cypress trees make me think of skinny piñon trees. But the views here are unlike home, in so many marvelous ways. On our day trip to Cortona, after getting out of a taxi ride that climbed the hillside, we spent the first ten minutes staring in awe at the landscape. The Chiana Valley seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see, and even under a dripping sky, lake Trasimeno glistened from sunlight that broke through the clouds. It was the third time during this study abroad experience that I felt my breath stolen by the landscape. The first was at Pompeii, under Mt.Vesuvius, and the second was at Capri. But this was beautiful in a different way. As we walked through the tiny streets of Cortona, our small group was enraptured by the picturesque views that could be found down every winding alleyway. The sprinkling rain set a comfortable temperature and the little shops glowed a bit brighter compared to the deep blue clouds above them. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being taken away by how each town is layered with history, architecture and art. We were lucky enough to be in Cortona during Cortona on the Move, an international photography festival, and were able to see a handful of photography exhibits, in addition to some incredible art galleries. Cortona is also home to two fantastic museums: an Etruscan museum and the Diocesan Museum, just outside of a Roman Catholic cathedral. Some of us – not including myself – braved the steep hills of Cortona to visit the Basilica di Santa Margherita and were able to see an even more fantastic view of the Tuscan countryside. Instead, I opted to sketch in the Piazza della Repubblica, while the younger Landi played soccer and local musicians filled the square with guitar strums. Moments like this, here in Italy, are comforting since they remind me of home, but they add to my life experiences in ways that home never could.
Ciao for now!
OUA’s second weekend of September was full of good food, great views, and better company…
Quick Itinerary – via train, bus, boat and foot:
1. Friday- Rooney Center departure at 7:00 am
2. Friday- Pompei from about 13:00-17:00 pm
3. Friday evening – Sorrento
5. Saturday night – Sorrento
6. Sunday of travel and arrival in Arezzo around 19:00 pm
23 students and 7 adults made up a 30-person tour of the Pompeii ruins Friday afternoon. I can speak for everyone by saying that it was everything and more. You could feel the history and see the power of the active Vesuvius volcano.
Next – Sorrento! Sorrento is a beautiful coastal city with great seafood and linen. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was a family (group) dinner at Ristorante Zi’Ntonio where we had a lovely meal in the private little cove downstairs of the restaurant.
Saturday was dedicated to the breath-taking Island of Capri. We started our day with a 2-hour private boat ride around the island to see green and blue water caves and swim in the Mediterranean Sea – I think a couple of us checked that off our bucket list! After the boat ride, we had a free afternoon in Capri. Myself and over half of the group went “Ana” (the Greek word for “up”) to Ana Capri, or the more elevated city on the island. We had an exceptional lunch of sea food dishes and fresh pizza followed by window shopping and a chair lift ride to the top of Mount Solaro for a view in the clouds.
Saturday evening was spent getting to know Sorrento a little better and enjoying its nightlife before a Sunday of traveling back to OUA home base.
I recommend all three of our destinations to fellow travelers who want a little history, fresh food, shopping and salty water.
This weekend allowed me to get to know everyone better and appreciate how different we all are. We can’t lose with a study abroad group like this one!
OUA Fall 2017