Honors Students Experience Italy on Summer Tour

By Giovanni Hashimoto on August 29, 2012

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Juniors in PUC’s Honors Program hada stunning start to their summer when they spent three and a half weeks inFlorence, Italy as part of the annual “Beauty” seminar, June 28-July 24. Studentsin the seminar focussed on the definition of beauty, primarily within thecontext of Renaissance art, centered in Florence, along with other artisticperiods.

The tour was led by CynthiaWesterbeck, chair of the department of English, along with Sylvia RasiGregorutti, professor of modern languages, and Roy Benton, professor ofmathematics. This is the second time this group of faculty has led the tour;they led it with a different group of students four years ago.

According to Westerbeck, the tripgave students time to become intimately familiar with the city of Florence andits culture. “You really feel like you own Florence, you know the city—it’syours,” she says. “More than any of the other type of class, you are gettingout of the classroom and actually experiencing learning.”

In addition to Florence, the groupalso visited Rome for its plethora of baroque art; the stunning ancient town ofAssisi; Venice and its acclaimed museum of modern art, the Guggenheim; andother locations. In addition to the many museums and sights, the students alsokept up an extensive reading schedule during the trip ranging from GiorgioVasari’s Lives of the Artists to The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Robert Henry, a junior theologymajor, said he was excited because the trip provided a chance to go overseasfor the first time. “I haven’t painted or drawn since I was a little kid,” hesays. “I never really had an interest in art or sculpture but after the secondgallery, I had an epiphany. I was really able to embrace the art.”

“In terms of the Honors Program,certainly this is the central place in the program where art is truly thesubject,” notes Westerbeck, who also teaches the program’s junior seminartitled “Virtue.” “What’s really important, I think, is just the culturalexperience of traveling and being immersed in another culture.”