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April 16, 2001

Calvin Student Wins Perugia Award

Calvin classics major Stephanie Blossey can't get enough of Mediterranean culture. She's already traveled to Italy and Greece with Calvin interim classes. This summer she'll spend an entire month in Italy, studying and absorbing Italian culture, thanks to a scholarship administered by the Perugia Sister Cities Committee (PSCC) of Grand Rapids Sister Cities International.

Blossey, a native of Waterford, Pennsylvania, and graduate of Fort LeBoeuf High School, earned the honor by writing a 500-word essay on her love affair with the Italian language and culture, submitting letters of recommendation from her professors and sitting for a formal interview with PSCC committee members. Her nod as the 2001 winner marks the second year in a row that a Calvin student has won the award. Last year Liz Muller was the first Calvin student ever to win the competition.

Sister Cities International, the organization of which PSCC is a part, was created in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to promote knowledge and understanding between U.S. and foreign cities.

In 1993 Grand Rapids established sister city relations with Perugia, the capitol of the hilly central Italian region of Umbria. Since 1997, PSCC has been awarding one student per year a grant to cover airfare and travel expenses to Perugia's Universita' per Stranieri (University for Foreigners), home to 10,000 foreign students from 120 different countries. The University then waives tution for this person.

"I'm so excited about the whole experience," says Blossey. "I'm looking forward to 'being on my own' and being able to meet new people from all over the world. I am also looking forward to experiencing the Italian culture again because it is very laid back and very fun, so I will be having a sort of 'vacation' in addition to attending classes."

Classics Prof. Mark Williams says Blossey is well-prepared for the trip. "Stephanie is smart, has a good work ethic, is well-spoken and comes across well in interviews," he says. Williams says that a working knowledge of the Italian language will be extremely helpful for Blossey's planned museum career, noting too that "Italy is at the epicenter of a lot of the controversies that beset the museum world nowadays."

Blossey plans to visit local museums and sites and hopes to do some traveling to other cities nearby. Perugia's central location on Italy's excellent rail system will make this very easy.

If Muller's experience last year is anything to go on, Blossey is in for a trip she'll never forget. Muller can't say enough in praise of Italy's natural beauty, art, architecture, and friendly culture. She notes too that living in one place for five weeks gave her a unique opportunity to become really immersed in the Italian culture.

"Italy was fantastic," she says. "I met many wonderful people from all over the world. I learned another language in its native environment, which is truly the quickest and best way to learn." Muller currently studies Latin and Greek at UCLA, and will be applying to Ph.D. programs in history this fall. Her Italian comes in handy in her research as well as at her favorite Italian restaurant.

Blossey owes at least some of her success to her instructors in the Classics Department, all of whom, she says have been very supportive in writing recommendations, giving advice and helping with career guidance. Though comprised of only four instructors, the Calvin's classics department has an outstanding reputation nationally and even internationally thanks in part to its teachers, but also because of students such as Blossey and Muller.

--written by media relations writer Abe Huyser-Honig (class of 2004).

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Contact Phil de Haan
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