Rooney Family Center Moments
Bringing students back after 15 months is an exciting moment! I feel so lucky to be able to return to my roots of Student Affairs and Residential Life. It’s been a strange year not hearing the everyday commotion of friendships being formed, endless laughs, delicious dinners, and nights of studying. To prepare for this, I’ve spent many weeks organizing the building again... training local university interns who act as summer assistants and friends to students, posting important publications again, getting keys ready, finalizing arrival paperwork and documents, and more. Preparing for a new group of students is always busy, but even more after this pandemic! It’s all going to be worth it when we see those smiling faces walk through the OU gate!
The past year at OU in Arezzo was characterized by the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Seeing the Rooney Family Center without students was pretty sad and we were constantly monitoring the situation, in the hope that we could get back to normal.
The facility is roughly 3,000 square meters large; between summer programs and semesters there isn’t much time left over to schedule major maintenance work, so once we realized that with the pandemic I wouldn’t be able to carry out my usual work in the kitchen as the OU in Arezzo cook, I was able to use my previous experience as a painter and decorator to contribute to the redecoration of all the rooms and common areas in the Rooney Family Center, as well as the offices and classrooms at the San Francesco Classroom Annex.
We also put into place the necessary Covid-19 mitigation protocols and we are ready at last to welcome the students who will be participating in this year’s summer programs.
Rooney Family Center BBQs are a favorite pastime at OU in Arezzo and we can't wait to host them again when students return to beautiful Tuscany! Students in fall, spring, and especially summer, get to experience one of these BBQs. With OUA's Chef Fabio at the grill and in the kitchen, our BBQs consist of delicious food to match the American style with the Italian culture. Our RFC BBQs also incorporate games, outdoor activities, dancing, and more. For example, this is when President's Leadership Class says their goodbyes and closes their program on their last night at the RFC and during one recent semester, students raised funds through a raffle at a community-wide BBQ, that benefited local charities. Summer Assistant and UNISI student Lisa Giannelli has experienced several RFC BBQs and says, "My favorite BBQ at OUA was during the 4th of July. It was my first time celebrating U.S. Independence Day and it was simply amazing. It's the perfect time to try some delicious grilled burgers just like they make in the U.S. Every BBQ at OUA is a chance to meet new people and make new friends!" Welcome back, spring, the start of BBQ season in the U.S. and in Italy!
Without #OUASooners breathing life into the Rooney Family Center, the daily activities feel different. However, we have found a variety of ways to keep the facility alive and the program going. For example, we still offer internships to local university students. We are highly connected to the University of Siena in Arezzo (UNISI) and one way is through Italian students who are studying English to do internships with us at OU in Arezzo. Although partly virtual, this semester's interns also come to the Rooney Family Center and work in-person (albeit, social distanced) to get as much of an experience as possible working with me, Lucio Bianchi (the Student Services Coordinator) and other staff. These interns should speak, write, and read as often as possible in English, as this is what they are studying at UNISI. The interns have helped produced an array of social media and digital content pieces this semester. For example, they write 3-4 social media pieces each per week, they design original content and videos, and they helped us start TikTok for the first time. Some of their highest performing content have been: A "Carnevale" themed TikTok video, photos and descriptions about the history and modern-day use of spaces in the Rooney Family Center (such as the chapel), and graphic designs they create on their own. For example, posts about Italian tongue twisters. They have also single-handedly launched our first Spotify account and have re-vamped the OUA Twitter account. Even during these times of uncertainty, thank you to Giuseppe and Ilaria for your work this semester and for continuing to bring life to the Rooney Family Center.
Each semester starts with an arrival orientation week to acclimate students into their study abroad experience. It didn't take long for Spring 2020 students to make the Rooney Family Center their home with socializing in the RFC and becoming a family.
Students know how to keep the "joy" in the Rooney Family Center. Celebrating the holidays at OUA is quick, as shortly after Thanksgiving break students are getting ready to pack-up and head home after four months in Arezzo. The RFC is beautifully decorated by students. Organized by Student Activities Council, in fall 2019 they had a holiday party with plenty of sweets and hot chocolate and played Dirty Santa.
#tbt to just last week when students celebrated Chef Fabio’s birthday with custom-made t-shirts of his chalkboard design in the kitchen. Our #ouaalumni should know what we mean! Raise your hand if you know and love #ouinarezzo’s Chef Fabio! 🎉🙋♀️👨🍳 #ouafall19 made his day special. With Fabio as your chef at #oua, you not only get delicious food, you get a pal! Thank you for all you do, Fabio!
Lots of decorating and preparing these last two nights at #ouinarezzo to transform the Rooney Family Center. Students are getting ready for our community Halloween event for kids! Great job to these #ouasooners!
Thank you to the U.S. Consulate General in Florence for coming to speak to our students about studying abroad in Italy as American university students! This meeting always gives students an array of information about living in Italy as an Amerian student. #ouinarezzo #ouafall19
Orientation Week sets you up for your entire semester and fall 2019 included tons of activities and sessions to get the students started in the right direction. Student Michael said orientation week can be exhausting, but it's important to get into our new time zone and he learned everything he needs to know to have a successful program in Arezzo!
Thank you to musicians Luis Ledesma and Danielle Orlando for the beautiful concert last night! Luis is a baritone opera singer and Danielle is a piano accompanist to international opera singers. They travel the world together performing and teaching. We had the privilege of hosting them in the Rooney Family Center last night and they performed several songs for our Microbiology and Art and Artifice students, along with community members of Arezzo. What a great night! #ouinarezzo #ouasummer19 #ouambio19 #ouaart19. See more photos and videos on our Facebook page, Snapchat, and stories here on Instagram! Learn more about Luis and Danielle and their work around the world!
Students had a great time tonight watching the #arezzo Joust! The Rooney Family Center is located in the Porta del Foro neighborhood and we won this year! Everyone was so excited! This is similar to @ou_football game day at the @uofoklahoma! Bravo, @portadelforo!
This morning we say goodbye to our first @ou_plc group in Arezzo, PLC Boomerissimo, and they ended their week by enjoying a BBQ last night and then singing the OU Chant in the garden! PLC BBQs at the Rooney Family Center are a huge hit every summer! #ouinarezzo #ouasummer19 #ouaplc19
Some of our #ouasooners have already left, while many enjoyed the last Rooney Family Center dinner tonight with Chef Fabio and Mary Ann! We’re also proud to show-off our Student Activities Council t-shirts created by the student leaders and worn here by advisor, Nela and president, Sophie, in the RFC garden. Thank you for a great semester and here’s to you, #ouaspring19! #ouinarezzo #ouasac
This is my classroom & I’m not upset about it.
-PLC Student Taylor, Summer 2019
We never want to leave our pretty home. #senti