Students visit Italy for PACCE project

April 1, 2014

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PACCE Poster Day

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Exploring Contemporary Cultures Through Art – that’s what a group of University of Wisconsin-Platteville students did during their recent Winterim. Funded in part by the Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement, the short-term, faculty-led study abroad program partnered with the Istituto Pontificio Sant’Apollinare in Rome, Italy to give students an experience of a lifetime.  

The group included UW-Platteville students Bridget Hughes, Alan Karas, Anna Jenson, Victoria Fisher, Kayla Ulrich, Amanda Zasada and Alyssa Meyer and UW-Platteville professors, Carole Spelic’ and Richard Moninski.

Following a fast-paced sight-seeing expedition, the students created presentations to examine their interactions with art on a daily basis. They then delivered their presentations to the high school students at the Istituto Pontificio Sant’Apollinare and engaged in small group discussions to compare and contrast the UW-Platteville students’ experiences with those of the Istituto students, who were not only Italian but international. The small groups then presented back to the whole group.  

“I really enjoyed debunking the stereotypes we had about each other's cultures; for example, the Italian students explained that they do not constantly talk in loud voices with wild hand motions while we explained that not all Americans are ‘cool kids’ driving around in hot rods,” said Zasada, a music major.

“I was really impressed by the Italian students' fluency with the English language. They begin learning foreign languages in elementary school while most American students admitted to not having begun foreign language study until high school, if at all.”

Mechanical engineering student Alan Karas was surprised at his level of enthusiasm for the art and museums. “I don't regard myself an art enthusiast,” he said. “The coolest thing about the experience was all the historical architecture and buildings, including the Colosseum and the Vatican.”

The Italian and international students were not easily impressed, according to Zasada. “One of the most enjoyable moments for me was when I tried to explain the Big M to the Italian students,” she said. “Compared to the abundance of famous monuments in Rome, the students could not understand the allure of a giant letter on the side of a hill.”

“The best part about the experience for me was the fact that we were learning about artwork and then we would actually go and see it,” said Fisher, a chemistry major. “You don’t appreciate the full scale of a piece of art until you see it in person. The impact of seeing it is much greater than that of memorizing information out of a textbook. I did not expect to see so many wonderful landmarks of history.”

These students will be among the more than 900 UW-Platteville students who will share their PACCE experience at the upcoming Engagement Poster Day. On Wednesday, April 23 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Velzy Commons and Nohr Gallery will be bursting with more than 70 posters highlighting this semester’s PACCE projects. Students will be available to explain their displays and their projects to fellow students, community members, faculty and staff. This semester’s event is being held in conjunction with the Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors Symposium. The public is invited to attend both.

PACCE has been active since 2008 and provides funding for community projects that support student growth through engagement, teaching and reinforcement of classroom learning. PACCE is a funding source for scholarship of engagement projects and funds hundreds of projects every year. For more information about PACCE, visit

Written by: Kathy Neumeister, PACCE, (608) 342-6020,

Formatted by: Alison Parkins, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1526,

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