A Look Back at Cagli

By Steve Byers

The streets of Cagli, ItlayFor some reason I have trouble getting any sympathy when I tell people how hard I’ve been working this summer. I think it has something to do with the fact that I just returned from a month in Italy. But it was all hard work, believe me.

The month in Italy was as a faculty member in the Diederich College’s Cagli Program, a month-long stay in the small town (population 9,056) of Cagli in the Appennines Mountains in the north of Italy. That’s also where the work comes from. Twenty-five students from across the U.S. gathered in an intensive digital storytelling program where they earned six credits, three in digital storytelling and three in intercultural communication.

Each student (this year’s group included students from M.U., Gonzaga, Creighton, Kansas and Vanderbilt universities) took classes beginning at 8 or 9 a.m. (in intercultural comm and conversational Italian) and completed a digital storytelling project that involved their creating a magazine story, video, photo essay and website. This involved not only using interpreters but learning Final Cut Pro and Dreamweaver. The stories were on the 12th century town and its residents with most of the communication being in Italian. It was a different kind of storytelling.

Director William Thorn assembled a great team of professionals and academics. As well as myself and Thorn, faculty included former radio and television professionals Gael Garbarino who also works with M.U. and Dan Garrity of Gonzaga, website designers Mike Williams of Kansas (chair of its journalism department and also a professional photographer) and Joel Davies of Creighton, and M.U.’s Giordana Kaftan, a Rome native who teaches Italian and headed our team of interpreters. Maggie Wilson, a recent M.U. graduate who took part in the program last summer, was our student liaison. Provost John Pauly stopped by to talk with students as well as participate in a ceremony with city officials.

Days were long since students not only had classes, but needed to research and report their stories as well as spending long hours in the lab (open until 10 p.m. most nights). Students worked in teams of four with a faculty mentor, helping each other as well as working on their own projects. Not surprisingly, some of the students seemed to have been expecting a vacation and were displeased with the amount of work. This was my second year on the faculty so I knew to expect six- or seven-day workloads of most of the day.

Still, we had time for day trips to Rome, Assisi and Florence as well as soccer, basketball, swimming, shopping and enjoying the cafes on the town’s piazza (local wines, panini and gelato—only 19 flavors this year since I had already tried the other ten—were favorites). But did I mention, it was work? You can see the results at http://caglimarquette.com.

Steve Byers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication.

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The opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of Marquette University or the Diederich College of Communication.

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