By Liam McGurl
A group of St. Bonaventure University students who are studying at Sant’Anna Institute in Sorrento, Italy, had the opportunity to be addressed by members of the Naples-based U.S. Consulate.
Made possible through the coordination of St. Bonaventure alumna Mary Jo Polidore, ’78, this panel-style lecture at the institute featured Patrick Horne, Joshua Lawrence and Payton Gannon – members of the foreign service’s political, economic and commercial section.
Programming began with an informal meet-and-greet breakfast in order for students to familiarize themselves with the visiting members. Sorrento Program Director Anna Bulszewicz kicked off the formal lecture with an introduction of the panelists and Sant’Anna Institute President Cristiana Panicco, who offered student attendees a warm welcome to the Amalfi Coast.
“My hope today, tomorrow and for the rest of your lives is to be open, look at the world as different – but look without judgement,” Panicco said. “What is different is not bad all the time.”
Much of the formal lecture surrounded the state department’s main roles in maintaining healthy relations between the United States and Italy.
“The No. 1 duty of any diplomats, whether in embassies or consulates, is protecting Americans,” Horne said. “Protecting American business interests is No. 2.”
Some of the Consulate’s more specific work involves ensuring American citizens have access to adequate healthcare while abroad, tracking immigration trends and intervening when American businesses are treated unfairly.
Given St. Bonaventure’s academic focus on international politics and digital media while at Sant’Anna Institute, the panel discussed how new, digital trends have changed the way the state department operates.
“Especially when it comes to raising awareness about social issues, such as LGBT month, or a lot of the social policies that America is trying to advance, or just talking about some of the good projects that we’re involved with … there’s nothing better than social media for getting that word out,” Horne said, regarding how some social media trends benefit the Consulate.
Cori Fagan, ’17, a graduate student at St. Bonaventure, said the lecture was engaging, particularly because of her academic background.
“The portion of the lecture where the Consulate members discussed imports and exports was fascinating to me,” said Fagan. “In the school counseling program at St. Bonaventure, we don’t discuss international relations in business, but more so general cultural differences, so it was interesting to get that perspective.”
The day’s programming ended with an off-site lunch for Sant’Anna Institute faculty, student attendees and the panelists.
For more photos and videos, follow the Sorrento Study Abroad Program on Instagram @studysorrentosbu.
A photographer and communications specialist, Liam McGurl holds a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from St. Bonaventure. He is spending the summer at Sant’Anna Institute as an assistant director to his alma matter’s study abroad program in Sorrento.
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