Story of a Transformation
from a Monastery to the OUA Study Center
What’s the Story of OU in Arezzo?
The story of OU in Arezzo started, like many transformative stories, with a bright idea and a passion for making an impact on students through studying abroad. The idea itself was pretty simple - to create a study abroad experience most OU students would see as safe, engaging, culturally relevant, and copasetic with their area of study. The passion to build it from nothing came from an entrepreneurial spirit of a few individuals on campus, as well as my own realization after 20 years living abroad, that everyone and every place has something to contribute to making the world a better place for everyone. To be a part of that ideal, to realize it in some small way through the OU in Arezzo campus, was a dream come true.
The seed for the eventual program many people recognize today as the OUA campus found purchase via a series of summer programs run out of the small apartment or basement of ‘Casa Duclaux’! Students had keys to the space, wi-fi, and plenty of couches and home cooked meals with our small boys, Alessio and Max. Those were wonderful years and we all learned a lot, not just the students! Participation in those summer programs skyrocketed, generating the semester initiatives that also quickly grew into the academically varied semester programs we have today.
After much research, the beautiful Tuscan town of Arezzo was eventually chosen as the home for OU’s Italian Study Center. This for several reasons: the beautiful medieval center is safe, walkable and full of commercial activity; Arezzo is not a town overrun by tourists so the feel of the city is ‘typically Italian’; the size of the town (pop.100,000) suited students from Oklahoma; there is a local branch of a nationally recognized Italian university (UNISI); and finally, the cost of living was manageable. With the recent completion of the 3,000sqm Rooney Family Learning Center, OU in Arezzo is now fully operational. That bright idea is now a reality - a shining star in the study abroad programs on campus in Norman, which extends far beyond Norman through the memory of thousands of students who have called Arezzo home.
That’s the story of OU in Arezzo. Stay tuned for the next chapter!
Kirk Duclaux - Director of OU in Arezzo