White, Thomas

Name: Thomas White
E-mail: twhite7@nd.edu
Location of Study: Rome, Italy
Program of Study: Sapienza University of Rome Summer School
Sponsor(s): Mimi Ravarino


A brief personal bio:

At Regis High School, Tom was a Public Forum Debater in the Hearn Speech and Debate Society. He served an intern at the State of New York Grievance Committee for the Second and Eleventh Judicial Districts and was a ball person at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships. Tom also was assistant captain of the Garden City Wings Varsity Ice Hockey Team and led the team to the Long Island Championship Series. He is a recipient of the Adelphi University Prize for Leadership. At Notre Dame, Tom is part of the College of Arts and Letters with a major in the Program of Liberal Studies.  He participates in hockey, volleyball, soccer, and lacrosse intramurals for Dillon Hall. Tom is also a member of the Special Olympics Club of Notre Dame.  In January, he traveled to Washington D.C. for the March to Life as a member of Notre Dame’s Right to Life Club. For his Social Justice project, Tom participated in a Summer Service Learning Program in New York City through the Center for Social Concerns.  He taught and advised middle school boys through the REACH Program of Regis High School.

Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:

My plan of action is not limited to the opportunities afforded by the Sapienza University of Rome. This past summer, I had the opportunity to edit, research, and write alongside a high school professor of mine, Rev. Anthony Andreassi, C.O. Charged with chronicling the history of my alma mater, Regis High School, for its centennial celebration in 2014, Fr. Andreassi enlisted my help in his endeavor to provide a compelling account of Regis’ unique history. When in Rome, I would work with his close associate, Alberto Bianco, at the Jesuit Archives to research primary documents for Regis: The First Hundred Years (working title, to be published by Fordham University Press). In this way, I would interact with many local speakers at the archives and have the opportunity to view documents in both Italian and Latin while helping to publish a nonfiction work alongside my former professor.

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

I am capable of carrying out the project because of my experience with Italian at Notre Dame. Having done very well in all of my Italian classes at Notre Dame and having completely enjoyed each and every class, I believe that I am particularly well-suited for study in Rome. Furthermore, as I am fascinated by linguistics and the human mind due to the vocal tics that derive from my Tourette Syndrome, I consider studying another language to be an outlet for the mind in a therapeutic manner. In this way, I will be helping myself in all future endeavors as I strive to find an outlet, a release for the pent up vociferous neurons that constitute my Tourette Syndrome. Additionally, As a more informed citizen, I will be in a better position to appreciate and comprehend the intricacies of culture and of the world community. Acquiring a truly global mindset, I shall attain another education altogether.

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

  1. At the end of the summer, I will be able to communicate in Italian with native speakers on academic and political topics such as political theory, foreign policy and ethics.
  2. At the end of the summer, I will be able to speak, read, write and listen at a level of proficiency equal to two semesters beyond my current Italian coursework placement at Notre Dame.
  3. At the end of the summer, I will be able to describe the major structures and themes of the Italian state and explain how these parallel and diverge from American political structures in my Italian writing and research.

My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience:

As was said before, I shall attain this goal by studying at the Sapienza University of Rome Summer School for four weeks (June 18- July 14). This intensive program combines three distinct elements: Archaeology and Art in Rome; Contemporary Italian Language and Literature; and Film, Theater, and Music. In this way, the program allows for an intensive immersion into Italian linguistics, culture, and daily life. Furthermore, by means of four hours of classes in the morning and four additional hours of classes in the afternoon every weekday, I am confident that I will attain full proficiency by the time I leave Rome. By effectively allowing time for guided tours, performances, Italian debates, and other such spectacles, I shall attain complete and utter immersion. My expected outcomes are quite simple: to comprehend and appreciate the dynamic and culture of a foreign city and populace and to attain proficiency in the acquisition of Italian during my summer.

Reflective Journal Entry 1: 

Written June 13

Today marks my first day of classes! I am very excited to attend the University of Rome and truly immerse myself in my interesting (albeit lengthy) classes! I have been in Rome for three days now and my Italian continues to improve. What I need to work most on is my speaking because I am very good at translating and dissecting the spoken word. My goal is to look as Italian as possible so that everyone stops assuming that I speak English. This is sure to be a difficulty for a boy whose veins run with Irish blood!

Reflective Journal Entry 2:

Written June 18

Every single time I enter my classroom at the University of Rome I feel as though I am entering the United Nations. The vibrant cultural diversity in my class alone continues to shock me day in and day out. With classmates hailing from Iran, France, Switzerland, Russia, Australia, Romania, and the United States, there is never a dull moment during the eight hours in which class is in session. I am very excited to practice my Italian with students from all over. Amazingly it is my group’s common language. Communication can prove difficult and I require a bit of time to formulate my sentences before speaking them; however, I feel that I will soon overcome this little hurdle.

Reflective Journal Entry 3:

Written June 25

Classes are phenomenal and my Italian is becoming stronger and stronger. I have totally immersed myself in an Italian environment. I am using my iPhone and laptop in Italian to help with my transition to increased proficiency. I have made many friends at the shops and restaurants that I frequent. The people know me by name and they could not be nicer as they help to teach me slang and utilize idioms and such in order to help me on my road to bilingualism!

Reflective Journal Entry 4:

Written July 6

Ever since I began studying Latin in high school I have been fascinated with the city of Rome, the center of the world both modern and ancient. By the good graces of the University, I travel to ruins, beautiful churches, and shrines almost three times a week. My visits have been to the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museum, the Forum, the Pantheon, and the Spanish Steps. Equipped with a native tour guide and our handy dandy listening devices we scaled the heights of the Coliseum and descended to the crypts of St. Peter’s. Reading Latin and Italian on almost every monument I see, I feel empowered and confident in my ability to one day be bilingual!

Reflective Journal Entry 5:

Written July 13

Today marks my last day of classes in Rome. After almost a month of intensive classwork and discussion with my international family of scholars I am ready to return home and speak English a bit. In high school I attended a retreat called Quest. It was a three day long spiritual exercise and I benefitted greatly from the experience. On the last day of Quest my leader delivered a talk entitled “Living the Fourth Day.” It professed the need to continue to apply the lessons learned on the retreat after its end. I plan to apply the same idea to this trip. I will continue to read Italian cookbooks, watch Italian television, and speak with the Italian proprietor of my local Deli. This summer has been a blessing and I will cherish it forever.

Reflection on my language learning and intercultural gains:

The Sapienza University of Rome Summer School allowed for an intensive, thorough examination of both Italian language and culture. Studying Italian in a global hub such as Rome allowed for an immersion into a true melting pot of Italian culture and commerce. Equipped with the resources and excursions provided for by the Sapienza University of Rome, I experienced operas, attended lectures, and made my way through the daunting ruins of the forum and the impressive colonnades of the Coliseum. Furthermore, my investigation of all that Rome had to offer was only enhanced by the Sapienza University of Rome’s tripartite approach to education

Reflection on my summer language abroad experience overall:

The experience overall was absolutely phenomenal. Balancing work in the classroom, Italian tours of ancient Roman ruins, and time with newly-made friends from France, Iran, Switzerland and Australia, I believe I received an invaluable, irreplaceable experience that only enhanced my Italian language acquisition.


How I plan to use my language and intercultural competences in the future:

I will continue to utilize Italian in my daily life by continuing with two Italian classes this Fall semester. Additionally, after a brief sortie to France while abroad with a native Frenchman, I hope to become proficient in French in the near future. My SLA Grant experience has provided me with the tools and methodology for the acquisition of Italian. I now know how I must proceed in order to learn many more languages and to become a truly global citizen!