When in Rome

November 13, 2013 — Joseph A. Marcuccio

This past summer, I had the opportunity to teach graphic design at the American University of Rome (AUR) in Rome, Italy.  During the first summer term, I taught ART/COM 241 Digital Imaging, which was offered through the Department of Communication and English. The graphic design course focused on creative tools and critical thinking skills using Adobe™ Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign. 

The students, who were attending summer abroad study programs, came from Singapore, Belgium, Serbia, Egypt, and America – what a great group they were!  They embraced the technology with immense enthusiasm.  The faculty and staff at AUR were also an excellent group of people; they provided me with all the support needed to teach the course. 

Not far from the AUR campus is where I lived, in Trastevere, meaning in ancient times “Trans Tiberim” or across the “Tiber River.” Trastevere is located on one of Rome’s ancient and highest hills called the Janiculum Hill where the Passeggiata del Gianicolo Park is open to vast and endless spectacular Roman views. In the distant hills the Dome of Saint Peter can be seen glowing with its architectural grace and splendor.

As a 28-year veteran at FM and a graduate of R.I.T. with a Master’s degree from University at Albany, in addition to digital imaging, I also teach digital and studio photography. I have shown my work in various venues in New York’s Capital District.  Much of my time in Rome was spent photographing hundreds of scenes and capturing the Italian culture through short video clips.

I visited parks, local neighborhoods, and took many walks along the Tiber River.  While sipping espresso in local cafés, I mingled among the native Romans and summer tourists. I was invited to a summer solstice neighborhood festival held in the apartment complex where I lived. The people were warm and friendly and the food was fantastic.

Though my camera lens, I was able to capture the beautiful Roman landscapes along with Rome’s spirit and essence; blazing sunsets and cool blue summer night skies along the ancient Tiber River.

In today’s global economy, participating in a semester abroad program plays an essential role in a student’s education. To visit and experience world cultures helps American students understand ways in which people live and do business in other places in the world. Many of my students I have conversations with say that they had a grandmother who came from Poland or a grandfather who came from Italy, Sicily, Ireland, Germany or England. We can learn a lot about our families’ heritage by visiting and experiencing the countries of our ancestors.

Students at FM can also learn about cultures of the world not only by getting involved in many of the clubs and events sponsored by our Student Government Association, but also from faculty who have actually been there.   I often discuss with my students, through case studies and my photos, the many forms of advertisements seen in other countries.  When we teach abroad, it allows us to look at our subject matter in new ways and examine ideas with a global perspective, which in turn, enhances our own skills and knowledge making it beneficial to our students.

SUNY community college students who are interested in a study abroad program through the American University of Rome can contact FM’s International Programs Office at intl@fmcc.suny.edu

 Professor Marcuccio plans to return to Italy in 2014 to visit his son who is currently living in Naples, Italy and is enrolled in a Master’s degree program at the University of Naples L’Orientale. His son is studying archeology.  Professor Marcuccio’s photography can be seen at www.josephmarcucciophotography.com.

Joseph A. Marcuccio is Professor of Digital Communications and Transmedia at FM.

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