The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Forty, Florence Italy, Serendipity and Studying Abroad, by Megan Hennen
I like to think of myself as laid back, however, with that being said, I have the tendency to be a stereotypical American when it comes to scheduling. I like to have a set time for when I’m meeting people and prefer to have a general plan of events. Knowing what’s around the corner is kind of a comfort zone.
And then I went abroad. This had been my first time out of the country without my parents and therefore an opportunity to create an itinerary of my own. Prior to my departure from the US, I had created a rough outline of how long I was going to stay in each predetermined city, but that was it. I got to pick and choose the things I wanted to see and do and skip the things I had no interest in. This freedom and unplanned exploring and had therefore led to a lot of “in the right place at the right time” kind of moments. At the beginning of my second week abroad, I met up with friends in Florence where we had originally planned to check out Micahlangelo’s David but soon discovered the annual gelato festival was taking place. What were the chances?! Basically, the city became one huge gelato shop that was handing out samples of just about any flavor you could think of – everything from the classic stracciatella (chocolate chip) to oro verde (olive oil). We couldn’t pass up this opportunity and decided David could wait.
What I learned from the experience was to leave some things unplanned and let surprises happen and embrace spontaneity. It makes for great memories – which are often times more memorable than those that are planned.
For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/
For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10
The North Star Project 2013-2014 School Year Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We gratefully acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also warmly welcome Duluth East High School and Dodge Middle School to the North Star Project.
Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.
Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year
(c) 2014 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 8, Spring, 2014. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.