Thud…Creeeek! The sound became louder and clearer as I awoke. Stomp… Stomp… Creeek! I heard the sounds as people walked across the ancient wooden floors. What time is it? I immediately reached over to check my phone…dead. I glanced out the windows, but the dark grey rainclouds did not help to indicate the time. I jumped out of bed and dashed down the stairs. I peeked into the classroom to see that my colleagues had already began situating their computers and last night’s readings on their desk space. I quickly darted back up the stairs and to my room to change out of my PJ’s. I then lethargically entered the classroom and found my seat. I was relieved to see that some other weary-eyed and disheveled students walked in after me. After several minutes passed Professor Moomaw began her first day of instruction at Villa Maderni.
Professor Moomaw is a vivacious, well informed, and confident woman. I was very impressed that she already knew my name as well as the rest of the students before we had even met. To start class she led us into a discussion about our trip to Bern and then delved into what she hopes to accomplish in the next week. In her words she wants us to, “first learn something and enjoy the learning. Second, learn something about the place where you are living and learning for most of a month—Ticino Canton. Most people are going somewhere else without opening their eyes to all that is around them.” I could not agree more. I believe that applying these experiences to material we learn in the classroom will be much more beneficial and interesting to all of us. I cannot be more thrilled that we will be traveling to more of beautiful Switzerland and absorbing what it has to offer. We will be traveling to Mendrisio and Lugano tomorrow and then to Bellinzona on Saturday.
After going over our itinerary, Professor Moomaw informed us of her two classroom rules. The first of the rules she stated in a very stern and clear manner, “Do NOT surf the web in my class” and the second in a lighter tone, “Be polite to your colleagues.” I can tell you now… nobody surfed the Internet while she lectured. Professor Moomaw then dived into her lecture that focused on the increased role of regions on sustainable growth and development. As it reached twelve o’clock, we were forced to reevaluate when we were to reconvene class, which was originally going to be at 4:30, however, the rain ruined any chance of an afternoon swim in the lake. Instead the class decided to meet back after lunch. Lunch today included our usual salad bar with the additional choice of rice, noodles, and an assortment of beans. The main meal was tuna pasta.
Class met again at 1:30 where we learned about sustainable economic development and discovered that our final project was to be a group presentation using the places we will travel this week. The purpose of the group presentations is to produce an analysis of the Ticino Canton’s sustainable economic issues using the SWOT structure. We are to present our findings this upcoming Monday. My team met after class to organize the direction we would take and how we would present our topic, the Strengths of Ticino.
After class, several students and I decided to go to the six-aisle grocery store in ‘downtown’ Riva to buy some snacks for our late-night cravings while we are finishing our assigned readings While there is yogurt in the Villa fridge, sometimes it just is not enough, especially to satisfy an itch for that great Swiss chocolate (Luckily, within minutes of returning back to the Villa Maderni it started pouring and when I mean pouring I mean hail.) I posted a picture from my bedroom window that shows the view on a clear day and a view from when it was hailing. As I write this blog, my roommates and I wonder how this historic building has lasted through the terrifying weather. But the building and the students and faculty weathered the storm but parts of our town, Riva, had flooding. I guess there is a reason that Villa Maderni has stood since 1750!
Author: Raelena Kniff, Undergraduate, Virginia Tech