Monica di Stefano
An Interview with ARCA’s Social Director Monica di Stefano
By Edgar Tijhuis
Since the beginning of ARCA’s program in Amelia, Monica Di Stefano has been involved in ARCA’s activities to organize many local affairs for ARCA.
We asked her to tell us more about her work for ARCA and life in this unique, more than 3200 years old, town in Umbria.
Can you tell us something about your background?
I was born in Amelia where I have basically spent my life among lots of travels. After obtaining my first degree in Foreign Languages and Literature, I started working in different fields, all related to the use of foreign languages. Currently I teach Spanish and English, in the Middle School of Amelia, after many years of experiences in different schools of Umbria. I live in Amelia with my husband and my 12 years old daughter.
And your work for ARCA?
I started working for ARCA in 2009…. so I can say I am the ‘oldest’ person in ARCA’s history together with Noah Charney and Edgar Tijhuis. In the first edition of the program I was involved by chance teaching some participants of the postgraduate program. I have worked as a teacher of Italian for ARCA participants until a few years ago. In that same year Noah Charney asked me to help him in the organization of some trips and extra academic activities. In the first ARCA summer I organized short trips in the neighbourhood of Amelia like Narni historical center, Terni and Orvieto. In the following years I started working officially as the ‘Social Director’ who takes care of events, field trips and logistics. My mission is to make participants feel comfortable in town and enjoy the most of what the territory can offer.
What is it like in Amelia?
Amelia is a small medieval town, far from the crazy, busy, polluted world that maybe people are used to. Life is slow, technology can be slow, but this makes Amelia and its surroundings very special and unique. I recommend to be ready for a very quite place. A homebase where ARCA participants can discover the real Italy and make lifelong friendships, in a summer without air conditioning, but with experiences to be remembered forever…
What is so special about this program?
Our program is exceptional because participants and professors live close to each other everyday, in a town where it is hard not to meet even after class and it becomes a pleasure to share a pizza and a glass of wine with people from many countries, all together after a long day. Our participants and professors live almost 3 months together under the common interest of cultural heritage, in a town which offers the basic services that are necessary for a serious academic program and which permits those studying with us ample time and space to concentrate on studies while having fun at the same time immersed in a history of more than 3 millenniums…
And what do you enjoy at ARCA?
I feel that I am really lucky to be part of ARCA world because in these past 13 years hundreds of people from all over the world have come to Amelia and I have been blessed to know them, to be in contact with people of different nationalities, to explore different cultures and languages from which I have learned a lot. It is the entire world that comes to our small lovely town and the entire town benefits from this culturally diverse exchange. I will never forget that day of July 2009 in which a friend called me asking for urgent classes of italian for some ‘Americans’ that were spending the summer in town. That phone call opened an infinity of opportunities for me!
Which course would you like to follow yourself?
After 11 years working for ARCA I realize I would love to be on the side of the participants and follow the eleven courses myself!!! If only I could….if I was not so busy…I believe every subject has its own peculiarities and every professor has his/her charm….so nothing has to be missed!
Any advice for the participants that come to Amelia?
Enjoy every single day of this experience, try to travel around with trains, local buses, and take the time to get to know the local people…
Keep in mind that you came here to study but….doing it in Amelia has a definitely special touch!