We arrived in Rome to start our Young Women’s Leadership Program with an introductory leadership discussion on modern women in Italy with Andrea Vreede. After exploring Rome, we met with a relief organization aimed at supporting and assisting immigrant women refugees, often coming from Africa or the Balkans, Anab Farah Abdi -Somalia, Fatiha Mansouri-Morocco, Ranieh Almhayre-Syria and Yemisi Adeboye -Nigeria. Following the visit, we then meet with a local Girl Scouts group and compared and learned about each other's lives and challenges. We had a nice dinner and stroll through the city with the Italian girl scouts.
We went to the iconic and historic Colosseum with a local guide and learned the many stories of this nearly 2,000-year-old Roman landmark that’s considered one of the architectural wonders of the ancient world. We were so fortunate to arrive for Pope Francis’ blessing a St. Peter’s Square and enjoyed greeting him while he went around on the Popemobile. Following our trip to St. Peter’s, we met with the former member of the Parliament, Anna Maria Carloni at Fondazione Basso for a presentation on Italian laws in favor of women’s rights. It was a very timely meeting during tense elections in Italy.
We enjoyed our local expert’s guide through the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica. In the afternoon we went to small town, Pergine Valdarno, where we met the former mayor Simona Neri who spoke about the challenges for women administrating local communities in Italy. Nearly 20% of the Italian municipalities presided over by a female mayor are in Tuscany. We enjoyed our stay at the agriturismo, Fattoria Lischeto.
Our leadership workshop in Tuscany connected us with the strong “Donne in Campo” organization of women farmers, presented by Anna Maris Dini, regional manager. We visited a beautiful, woman-run farm and met with the farmers; Carla Gugliemi, Lia Galli and Cristina Di Carpegna and learned about what drives them and discussed the challenges they face. Students assisted with various activities including making skin cream from bee wax and lavender oil and taking part in a handmade pasta class. In the afternoon, our group explored Lucca, a beautiful town in Tuscany, home to composer Giacomo Puccini.
We stopped in Florence on the way to Milan and enjoyed a visit to the Accademia, which houses Michelangelo's David.
In Milan, we took an evening walk to see the Wall Street of Italy, Piazza Affari. We participated in our final leadership workshop connecting us with a member of the 30% Club. The 30% Club runs initiatives to broaden professional growth opportunities for women across all industries. We were also able to meet up with our Italian exchange students and Professor Giulia Cacciavillani. Following this meeting, we visited the Last Supper, painted by Leonardo Di Vinci, an incredible experience for our students. We finished the day in Milan with a visit to the Armani Silos to learn about women in fashion.
On our final evening in Milan, we enjoyed recapping the previous eight days of amazing and unique leadership learning experiences in Italy. We felt very prepared for these meetings after our pre-trip meeting at the Italian Embassy with Mrs. Anita McBride and Cultural Attache, Giulia Prati, where she spoke about experiences she had as a diplomat.
We are so grateful for this experience! Thank you to Julie Fratarcangeli, Mrs. Anita McBride, and ACIS!