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A Win For Service-Learning in Siena, Italy

SIS Intercultural Study Abroad’s unique approach to international education centers on Service-Learning.  Over the past 20 years, we have developed and continually refined sustainable Service-Learning projects that engage international students in addressing local issues as part of their educational experience in Siena.

The basic foundation of Service-Learning

Service-Learning transcends mere volunteering, encompassing a learning cycle that involves in-class academics, planning, field execution, and reflection back in class.

From the classroom to the soccer field and back

We take great pride in the ongoing progress of our current projects. One of our flagship courses, Interdisciplinary Migration Studies: Service-learning and Social Action for Integration in Contemporary Italy, explores Italy’s migration history as wells as the contemporary challenges. For nearly two years, the Home 4 The World service project has provided language, cultural, and general support for migrants in Siena. This initiative has spawned further opportunities, notably the inclusion of migrant students that demonstrate the capacity and desire to study in our courses, thereby integrating them with our traditional study abroad students.  Home 4 The World has proven to be a catalyst for collaboration in Siena, working with everyone ranging from government agencies to local community organizations.  Most notably, the collaboration with the Oratorio Salesiano La Magione di Siena, a historic, Catholic community organization in town has been crucial in providing both spaces for activities as well as open-minded volunteers.

Vibrant in-class discussions have generated numerous ideas to foster social integration in Siena. Among these ideas, the simple yet profound notion of organizing soccer games, such as the recent one on a sunny day in late March 2024, has proven instrumental in breaking down barriers among various social groups. Migrants from different countries, locals, and our students from US-based universities all find common ground through sports activities.   The organization of these events as well as others are cultivated in the classroom.

Among the issues facing migrants, it’s crucial to recognize the importance of relaxation and enjoyment as fundamental human needs. Playing soccer on a sunny afternoon alongside Siena’s medieval walls is an experience in itself. When it arises from ongoing discussions about integration and cooperation, it becomes truly exceptional.

More soccer games are scheduled, along with lessons from our Pakistani students and volunteers on playing cricket!



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