Babbo, Mary Grace



Name: Mary Grace Babbo


Language:  Italian

Location of Study:  Siena, Italy

Program of Study: Dante Alighieri Institute

Sponsors: Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures and Albert J. and Helen M. Ravarino Family International Scholars in Italy Program

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A brief personal bio:

I am a freshman from Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. I am majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies and Piano Performance, with a minor in Italian. I play violin in the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra, and I’m also involved in running club, interhall cross-country, Quiz Bowl, and Junior Great Books here on campus. I love art, music, and running, and attending plays.

Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:

It is important to me to be able to speak Italian comfortably and fluidly. I would like to study abroad in Italy my junior year, and I feel this summer abroad focused on language instruction and cultural acquisition will greatly prepare me for this experience later in my college career, coupled with the continuation of Italian courses I plan to take each semester at Notre Dame. I also believe that the study of Italian opens many career opportunities to me: although I am not sure yet exactly what profession I will pursue, my liberal arts education at Notre Dame and the ability to converse fluently in Italian will enable me work for an international company where effective communication between other countries is required. Finally, Italian is important to me on a profoundly personal level: I am half Italian, and my paternal grandfather hails from Calabria. The opportunity to further pursue the native language of my heritage and to engage in culture so important to my family’s history through the SLA grant is something I am very grateful for.

What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:

My first major, the Program of Liberal Studies, is Notre Dame’s resident Great Books program, focused on discussion of the great literary works of Western tradition, with seminars that meet twice a week to examine these texts on a deep, critical level. Included in the reading list for the upcoming years are major works by Italian authors, including Dante’s Divine Comedy, Petrarch’s Ascent of Mont Ventoux and On His Own Ignorance and that of Others, Machiavelli’s The Prince, and Vico’s Scienza Nuova. While we will read these books in English translation in class, I would like to improve my Italian reading skills so that I can understand the text in its native language, and use this to enrich my literary comprehension and analysis of the books. I also want to improve my speaking fluency: while I currently feel comfortable writing and reading in Italian, speaking makes me more uncomfortable. I hope to be able to develop and practice my speaking skills in Siena to be able to communicate effectively with native Italian speakers.

My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:

1. At the end of the summer, I will be able to speak effectively with native Italian speakers on a variety of academic topics.

2. At the end of the summer, I will be able to read classic works written in Italian, particularly those used in my Great Books Seminars.

3. At the end of the summer, I will have a better understanding of Italian culture and the daily life of Italians to better prepare me to study abroad later in my college career.

My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience: