Natalie George spent five and a half weeks living in the heart of Tuscany while studying at the Lorenzo de’ Medici International Institute through Academic Programs International. She was instantly immersed in the beauty of Florence’s old-fashioned lifestyle when she moved into her apartment above the San Lorenzo market, right next door to the basilica. Each morning upon opening her window, she could smell the leather shops below setting up their stands: a scent that will always remind her of the city. Natalie became immersed in the culture through her Italian language course and utilizing what she learned each day when she went to the Central Market for fresh foods. She spent her free time visiting Florence’s many museums full of Renaissance art that had only been pages of textbooks to her in America. On weekends, Natalie had the opportunity to travel both independently and on excursions through her program to many famed cities throughout the country where she learned about the diversity of the countries climate and the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea. Through her travels, she was able to achieve her life goal of visiting the city of Pompeii. She also observed how each Italian city is so unlike the rest, varying in attractions and food specialties, but no matter where she went, the Italian people were very welcoming. In efforts to give back to a nation that had treated her so well, Natalie volunteered at the gardens of Museo Stibbert in the outer parts of the city where her and some other students helped some of the local volunteers to clean, weed, and care for the expanse of gardens behind the museum. Each week, her and another student took the bus to the museum where they could enjoy the natural side of the city while working to help keep it beautiful. Natalie thoroughly indulged in the cultures of Italy through the foods, wines, landmarks, and artwork that the ancient nation had to offer. She hopes that Florence’s Il Porcellino will keep his promise to bring her back there someday.
CEE Title: Mondo Giusto
For her CEE, Natalie helped to create Mondo Giusto, a fair to create a stronger sense of community and responsibility in Waynesburg by showcasing local businesses as well as local and international fair trade organizations. Local artists also provided entertainment for the event participants. The event was concluded with the dedication of a flower garden that the four women worked to bring to their campus, a lasting testament to their hard work and commitment to sustainability.