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Global Rome: Migrations and the Making of Cities

Student Name

Isabella Brown

Experiential Learning Category

International Engagement

Associated UW Course (if applicable)

Foreign Studies 300G

Summarize your proposed experiential learning activity, including the primary focus of
your activity, your intended actions, and the expectations of your supervisor and/or

This summer, I am going to live in Rome with the Honors study abroad group Global Rome. We are going
to focus on global migrations as well as the development of what is known as global cities, using Rome
as a case study of a global city that historically was and currently is influenced by migrations. This will
include touring Rome, as well as other cities such as Florence, Venice, Milan, and Amsterdam, as well as
attending classes and site visits. We will write two research papers as well as complete a group project on
a topic of our choice, mine being economics and innovation in a global city.

Explain how your activity demonstrates the values of the Honors Program Experiential
Learning area you selected. Rather than reiterating our definition, outline how your
activity embodies this definition.

Global Rome: Migrations and the Makings of Cities is a one month long program in Italy (as well as
bopping over to Amsterdam for half a week), so it fulfills the "international" clause quite nicely. We will be
doing a full quarter's work (15 credits) in a month, so even though the program is a bit shorter than a
quarter it will certainly be an extensive and engaging process.

How and why did you select this engagement? What skills or experiences do you hope to
gain from it?
This program will help shape my future as a global citizen, as I'm studying Economics and am interested
in working in partnership with international allies and someday influencing foreign or global policies.
Economic policies cannot be made in a glass box, and studying Rome and its inhabitants in the context of
the whole globe will help me to understand how major cities are connected in spite of distance and
difference. By exploring Rome as a global city, I will learn how one location and its inhabitants fit into the
interlocked and ever-changing communal world that we live in. So, this trip will help me contextualize
Economics as a subject deeply united with culture, politics, and history.

How does this activity connect to your concurrent or past coursework? How does it
speak to your broader education goals and experiences?

The study of Economics is inherently global. No economy can exist in a vacuum. The economy of any
given location is influenced as heavily by what is going on inside it as what is going on outside, as the
development of specialization has led to trade on a trans-continental level. I am an Economics major, and
I have learned in that to make policies without taking into account this comprehensive global picture can
be extremely dangerous. Studying how Rome operates in relation to the world around and the people
residing within will give me a perspective on foreign relations that cannot be found elsewhere.

How will your activity contribute to the larger goals of the organization/your partners?

Rome is the perfect case study of a city that combines rich history and modern context in order to hold a
place as one of the most influential metropolises in the world. My work here will involve volunteering at a
Refugee Center, creating two research proposals and writing papers on both, and completing a group
project on locations mixed with an overarching theme of Economics and Innovation. The way that site-
seeing is integrated into our program almost as research rather than tourism will help make the trip lasting
and memorable and academically worthwhile, as there is no better way to get data then going out and
doing research in person.

Estimated hours per week: 40

Estimated project start: 06/22/2015

Estimated project end: 07/22/2015

May we share excerpts from your application and final reflection to use as examples?

First name
Last name
Program Director
Organization (if applicable)
UW NetID (if applicable)

Final Reflection

Project Title

Global Rome: Migrations and the Making of Cities


After spending a summer in Rome, my views on the world have shifted greatly. I have met displaced
political refugees who are living homeless because of European Union migration regulations, as well as
wealthy local Italians. I have had the best espresso from the best coffee shop in the world, but I
floundered when it came to ordering cheese in the grocery store. I wrote 30 blog posts, and 8 papers, all
in the span of a month. I have woken up in my apartment with an Italian ant on my face. The difference of
incredible interactions and uncomfortable experiences that I had in Rome helped me to realize my place
in the world relative to many who, through war and economic turmoil and other things completely out of
their control, are in poverty, and how lucky I am despite the small minor setbacks I experienced.

Our focus for this trip was twofold, combining the idea of what makes a city with who makes up its
inhabitants. Rome turned out, just as I had expected, to be the perfect place to study how cities develop
and what makes a city global. Rome, unfortunately, was a bit lacking in globality. It was hard to do the
many assignments we were required to complete because the Wi-Fi all over the city was a disaster.
There are no coffee shops like in Seattle to work in, home Wi-Fi is spotty to nonexistent, and even the
UW Rome Center computer lab was overcrowded and only open select hours of the day. I enjoyed being
cut off from most communication with the world back home, but it was a lot to handle for other people on
my trip. I was lucky to not be in a long distance relationship or have parents who needed contact every
day, because many of my apartment mates had trouble keeping people back home in the loop. However,
I realized how lucky we are to have instant connections back home, and how our expectations that the
rest of the world mirrors our connected society were completely wrong.

Rome definitely has much more history than Seattle, and was more globally connected in the past, but
today the main global connection that it has is through tourism. I learned a lot about the ethicality of
tourism and travelling through our many readings and our interactions with Romans. Almost 70% of the
local Romans who lived in the city center are now displaced by the gentrification and development that
occurred as the tourist industry rose in the past thirty years. I had a group project in a specific
neighborhood of Rome, called EUR, and despite that neighborhood's attempts to connect Rome
economically, it was clear that the economic and political powerhouse that the city used to be is long
faded. The visit to the Vatican only enforced this idea- although the Holy Sea has informal influence on
Italian legislature (because of high albeit falling rates of Catholicism and the beliefs that structure the
faith) it is no longer a world player. Through these examples and counterexamples and many more, I
learned what makes a global city and learned how to diagnose both Rome and Amsterdam as global or

Our half week trip to Amsterdam showed us enough to contrast the two cities. Even on public
transportation in Amsterdam (there was "Wi-Fi in der Train") was it clear that the city was making huge
strides in staying connected with the outside world and increasing international technology and trade
connections. Our tour guide told us of the many companies that are becoming more important on the
global front, and the extreme juxtaposition with Rome made it inherently clear that Amsterdam was much
more of a global city. It was fun to write papers comparing the two and also discussing them individually,
and it gave me a foundation to diagnose other cities, such as Seattle, as global or not. It was amazing to
literally be living where one of the first cities that could have been classified as global began, and see how
it has changed over the years.
The second part of the program was regarding international migrations. We visited a refugee center a few
times in the trip, and interacted with many migrants who lived in the city. It was humbling to meet people
in the center who literally had nothing but the clothes on their back because they had fled after their
families were killed or they were kidnapped or their country was torn apart by war. The stories were
horrifying to hear, and had much more meaning than those I hear on the news every day. It is unfortunate
that human empathy is so limited that stories only make a lasting effect when we are confronted with
them face to face, rather than hearing them third hand. Attending a migration conference in Florence,
where top EU officials as well as many politicians came to discuss how to deal with the current European
refugee crisis, gave us insight into how the world is dealing with the ever increasing occurrence of
migration and the problems and benefits that accompany it. Once again, literally being in Italy and
meeting its actual inhabitants had a greater impact and taught me more than reading a textbook or
listening to NPR ever could.

I am very grateful for the time I was lucky enough to spend travelling and researching in Rome and
around Europe. I was able to visit Rome, Florence, Venice, the Amalfi Coast, Milan, Santa Marinella, and
Amsterdam. I interacted with locals born and raised in Italy, refugees who hope to make it eventually to
northern Europe, small town residents who know everybody in their whole town by name, and a great
group of students to travel with. I learned about cities and global connections by looking at Rome as well
as Amsterdam as case studies, and studied migrations by researching their inhabitants. The stories I
heard and read make me hope for the best for every refugee who is migrating for a better life, but the
reality is that a huge amount of change in the systems and policies of migration must occur to give the
refugees even basic human rights and protections. This trip has inspired me to continue to travel and
have new experiences that push me out of my comfort zone, and has taught me that even having ants in
your apartment is something that you can live through, especially in comparison to the hidden misfortune
of others that we in America do not see firsthand. I am excited to stay in touch with student colleagues
from the trip, and to apply what I have learned about interconnections in the world to my future studies in
economics and (hopefully) international employment, as well as to my next travelling adventures.

The quarter has made me even more excited to continue my studies in economics. Economics are global,
because every country is connected through trade and the value of their currency, as well as political and
cultural and migratory influences. I know that the more countries that I get a taste of, or even the more
that I learn that the world is greatly different from country to country, will help me to develop my skills in
international engagement and make me a more viable candidate to be employed to help solve problems
around the world, optimistically through the lens of economics. I hope that the refugee crisis is solved, but
the inflow of millions of people from northern Africa and the Middle East to Europe is going to have major
tolls and require major re-shifting to accommodate, and I hope to continue learning and discussing ways
to make these shifts happen. Every culture and country has its own nuances, and the exposure this
summer to so many different places and people taught me to appreciate differences between the U.S.
and the rest of the world, and how to navigate the differences. I am excited to build upon what I have
learned this summer in the upcoming two years of college (and for the rest of my life), so that eventually I
will be able to provide accurate help to revitalize economies and implement policies not just in the United
States, but around the world.

Submitted on
Sep 01, 2015

Final Evaluation



Submitted on

Oct 04, 2015


Bella was a trooper when it came to the stressful aspects of living abroad, including lack of air
conditioning, internet access and ability to communicate in the local language. Despite these
inconveniences, she was able to balance a busy schedule and strenuous workload with a rich experience
of place. She explored the city, made friends, and produced an impressive final project while. Throughout
the program Bella demonstrated very high levels of emotional, social and academic maturity. As her
written reflection demonstrates Bella is intelligent and well-spoken. She writes about applying this
learning experience to her study of economics. It has always surprised me that she is interested in
studying economics as it does not immediately match her inquisitive, all-embracing personality. That said,
I am glad that she has chosen this discipline; we need more students of economics like her. Bella fully
satisfied all expectations of this Experiential Learning Project and I would happily work with her again.