Elementary Education major Lily Serber ’24, pictured on the right with Margaret Fogarty (left) and Emily Chopra (a student at University of Georgia), spent the spring 2023 semester studying in Rome, Italy, at John Cabot University (JCU) through the AU Abroad study abroad program. While there, she took four courses plus an independent study, where she volunteered with Italy Reads and took part in the Community Service Program at JCU. Through the Community Service Program, she engaged in English conversations with local Italians learning the language, and prepared dinner packages for the local community.
She also took part in the KAHAL program, which helps Jewish students participate in events and build relationships in their host cities while studying abroad. “I attended Shabbat dinners in four countries (Italy, France, Spain, and Israel), another highlight of my time abroad, where I could connect with people from around the world,” Serber said.
Gay Melnick, Lily's University Coach, said, “I am very impressed with the initiative that Lily took to participate in this summer program. It is an amazing experience to learn about schools and how they function in different countries.”
“Volunteering in another country was one of my highlights being in Rome,” said Serber. “I had the unique opportunity to add an independent study to my class schedule when I participated in the Italy Reads program.” Italy Reads, which began in 2009, is a community-based English-language reading and cultural exchange program that collaborates with 200 Italian high school teachers from more than 60 high schools across Italy.
“Every year, one classic work of American literature is selected to read together as a class in each classroom, and the teacher for each class decides how to best teach the piece of literature to their students,” said Serber. “The schools where I volunteered focused on a newsletter assignment and video contest focusing on Summer on the Lakes by Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli. The students were asked to put together a video regarding the themes of Fuller’s story. I volunteered in three high school classrooms and prepared lesson plans and mentored students through the English language.
“The Italy Reads program supervisor asked if I would be a judge for the student video contest and I gladly accepted. There were 25 videos from 25 high schools. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of the Italy Reads program and volunteer in Rome throughout the semester. This was a meaningful experience for me and something I will always remember during my time abroad.”