The College of Staten Island’s Center for International Service hosted a reception on November 20, during International Education Week, to celebrate a quarter-century of offering study abroad programs in Italy.

Together with institutional partners, The American University of Rome, the Istituto Venezia, and Lorenzo de’Medici in Florence and Tuscania, the College has enabled hundreds of students to discover the delights of Italy and to experience the life-changing effects of studying abroad.

At the event, CSI President Tomás Morales and Robert Marino, President of The American University of Rome, spoke of the strength of the partnerships and toasted to the bright future for international understanding through educational exchange.

They were joined by study abroad alumnae Margaret Ricciardi, a 94-year-old adult student and artist, who is preparing for a Manhattan exhibit.

This semester marks 27 continuous years of courses at CSI for Mrs. Ricciardi. She is currently enrolled in oil painting and sculpture.

Mrs. Ricciardi earned a Bachelor’s degree in Art in 1985, studied in Italy twice, and established the Frank and Margaret Ricciardi Scholarship in 2006. “I was fortunate and wanted to share with others everything that the College has to offer. It’s a wonderful experience, a wonderful College,” said Mrs. Ricciardi. “It’s not a tremendous amount, but it is what I could afford, and it will help students study in Italy and study Italian. It is a tribute to my husband, who came to America from Italy when he was 16 years old.”

The programs, which are offered to CSI and CUNY students and nationally through the College Consortium for International Studies (CCIS), have been growing in popularity. During the calendar year of 1994, there were 90 students in the program; at present there are 90 students studying in Italy under the auspices of the College of Staten Island, and a total of 415 students will have participated in the CSI-sponsored programs during 2008.

All students have the opportunity to study Italian language while learning about Italy in a wide range of courses taught in English. Students earn college credit while studying topics that they would be unable to study on their home campus. Whether walking the streets of Florence with a noted art historian, debating issues with students from the European Union in a political science classroom in Rome, learning Italian language and culture in Venice, or studying in one of the new courses in opera and song literature or guitar and mandolin studies in Tuscania, students have “the experience of a lifetime” in Italy.

CSI celebrated a quarter-century of offering study abroad programs in Italy.