Student receives paid Italy trip
For some MSU students, the opportunity to travel abroad is just out of reach, but for journalism junior Chloe Hill, her dreams of visiting another country are being realized.
Hill is one of 34 students from across the nation who has been selected to participate in the Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery program, sponsored by the National Italian American Foundation, or NIAF. The program sent Hill on an all-expense-paid trip to the Campania region in Italy, where she will get to experience the culture of her ancestors. The program runs from May 30 to June 8.
Hill said she first heard about the program after her cousin was selected to participate a couple years ago.
“She went on the trip and really recommended it, (so I) applied,” Hill said. “They wait-listed me for two days, and then I was accepted.”
NIAF Executive Vice President John Rosa said the organization receives between 500-1,000 applications each year, and selecting students for the program is a difficult process. The applicants are selected based on several factors, including their response to essay questions concerning their ancestry.
“We like to select well-rounded students who know about their heritage and would like to go and visit their motherland,” Rosa said. “We review the questions to see where the most passion comes from.”
For Hill, her passion came from the opportunity to learn about her family history.
“I’m really excited to find out where my family came from,” she said.
Rosa said the program is a good opportunity for students to experience another culture and to prepare for life after college.
“To be able to spend the time in another country gives you that cultural experience, where you can interact with a whole different society,” he said.
Former ambassador and MSU alumnus Peter Secchia helped start the program 10 years ago. He said it offers students the opportunity to make a connection with their ancestry.
“The purpose (of the program) was to give people with Italian-American heritage a chance to see where their parents and grandparents lived,” Secchia said.
The trip also will give the students the chance to familiarize themselves with their ancestral country of Italy and its relationship with the U.S., he said.
After the program is over, Hill said she plans to continue learning about her heritage. The program won’t be taking Hill through the areas where her family lived, but she hopes to go back and visit those areas in the future.
“I want to learn more directly where my family comes from,” Hill said. “I think eventually I’ll want to go back and kind of discover some more about that.”