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SBU seniors explore international journalism in Italian internship

Aug 05, 2022

By Tyler Carro, ’22

Two rising senior journalism students at St. Bonaventure University have finished their fourth week interning at Positano News in Piano di Sorrento, Italy.

At right, Elizabeth Egan and Marnique Olivieri-PanepentoMarnique Olivieri-Panepento and Elizabeth Egan received their internship placements through Sant’Anna Institute, where they and 11 other Bonaventure students are taking classes this summer as part of the Sorrento, Italy, study abroad program.  

Olivieri-Panepento, of Buffalo, and Egan, of Rochester, have enjoyed their new adventures and learned to adapt to the Italian journalistic process and culture. 

While interning at Positano News, an online newspaper of the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento Peninsula, Olivieri-Panepento and Egan have focused on tourism within neighboring villages. 

Stories they’ve written include:

Nearly every day they take a train two towns over and experience the passions of the European culture.  

Positano News Director Michele Cinque takes Olivieri-Panepento and Egan to meet individuals and explore places the majority of aspiring journalists will never encounter. The nature of unplanned interviews is something both students are mastering. 

Learning to communicate without words is another skill the two women are learning as they go. Working in an office and conducting interviews where English is not commonly spoken is teaching them to pay attention to what people are saying, even though it’s in a different language. Paying attention to tone, hand gestures and facial expressions has helped them achieve this.

Elizabeth Egan and Marnique Olivieri-Panepento are pictured with their newsroomOlivieri-Panepento and Egan began working together as students in St. Bonaventure’s Jandoli School of Communication, where they teamed up to write articles for PolitiFact New York, worked together as editor-in-chief and senior editor for Her Campus, and shared ideas for their classes. They are grateful for that foundation and for their professors in the Jandoli School who prepared them with knowledge and encouragement.

Olivieri-Panepento recognizes that the opportunity to work in a foreign country is rare for a college student and says she has learned professional skills she will carry throughout her career.

“The pace of the Italian workplace has defined a new approach to how I view success and has shaped many new values,” Olivieri-Panepento said.

“Positano News forces its interns to become bold journalists – to never stop asking questions. Our boss tells us, ‘Ask, ask, ask. This is journalism. You ask and take pictures. You are journalists.’ Due to the language barrier, we have to listen differently and process what’s being said carefully. Though different countries around the world define journalism differently, there is a shared commitment to the undeniable work ethic at the root of all journalists.”

For Egan, the internship has surpassed her expectations.

“While our boss’s startled face when he learned we didn’t speak Italian on the first day left me pretty nervous, my little bit of Italian, his little bit of English and a lot of hand gestures allowed us to quickly develop our own system of communication,” she said.

“Following our boss blindly onto a fishing boat in Positano, pushing into a private tour of an ancient Roman Villa, crashing two weddings, and having locals shower us with free espresso and limoncello all in the name of journalism are just a few of the many incredible experiences I will never forget from this internship,” added Egan. “More importantly, the experience has taught me important lessons about listening, boldness in interviewing and that the key to being a good journalist is walking.” 

At the end of the five weeks, Egan and Olivieri-Panepento will present at the Sant’Anna Institute and summarize their internship experience through an e-portfolio to be shared with other interns, staff and News Director Cinque.

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