Posts Tagged American embassy
The first day of the conference was a little stressful since Greg and I were presenting on Sensory Storytime that morning! It was a bit nerve-racking but I felt a little better about it because several of the embassy personnel had asked about the topic the night before at dinner.
We went to breakfast at a nice cafe, Dive Cattore near the hotel. Gimena came to walk with us to Biblioteca San Giorgio in the morning where we received a short tour before the conference began.
The library is public and includes a variety of materials for all ages. It is beautiful and very modern with lots of light, a cafe and patio where patrons can bring materials, and trees as art both live and made of cast iron, twigs, and other materials. Maria Stella Eastern the library director told us that the materials used are an homage to a train factory that was on the site previously and had been demolished. The library is also the setting of the YouLab Pistoia the American Space within the library. It is a makerspace with a 3D printer and other technologies to encourage creativity and innovation.
The library is next to il Polo Universitad and because the students there don’t have their own library they utilize the Biblio to study and for its resources. The library is steadily busy between the cafe and the library itself from the time it opens til it closes, serving approximately 1000 people each day.
The main focus of the conference is “21st Century American Spaces: Innovation, Learning, and Entrepreneurship” which was reflected in the topics discussed including makerspaces, STEAM programming, and new programs the American Corners are offering. The Syracuse University Panel made up of myself and Greg (sensory storytime), Julia (self publishing), and Alex (gaming) had our presentations before lunch which I felt went well. I’m a nervous public speaker and though I knew my topic it’s still a bit stressful for me. For our speech, Greg reviewed the general facts and terminology around sensory storytime then I followed with information on how to setup a storytime that incorporates sensory enhancements based on my experience volunteering with two Syracuse area librarians, Dawn and Tatiana, to develop and launch a program.
The audience was interested in all the presentations and asked some great questions after on how to incorporate the ideas into their spaces. One member told us about an experience she had where you walked through a corridor decorated with fabric covering the walls and ceiling. When you exited the tunnel you entered a dark room where a storyteller whispered a story in her ear. While the idea may not be appropriate for every audience it was definitely a sensory experience which would capture and hold participants interest. After our presentation it was time for lunch, which was fabulous, and an opportunity to network and meet more of the AC representatives.
After lunch they held pecha kucha five minute presentations on a variety of topics and programs they had held and wanted to share with their peers to learn from and hopefully apply. Finally there was a Skype session with three of the librarians from Fayetteville Free Library on their makerspace and it’s role in the community in supplementing and fostering self directed learning.
Following the days sessions we walked back to the hotel and visited a supermarket on the way. It was interesting to see what products they sold compared to what we have in the states and the cost. Mainly we stocked up on bottled water and lamented the fact that we didn’t have a drive in the room. There was also a lot of mental math happening. When we returned back to the hotel and relaxed for a bit we went out to dinner and walked around the town a little.
We chose a restaurant in one of the Piazza de Duomo called Voronoi that had a lot of people sitting outside. It was hard to choose but luckily they had translations of each menu item. I ordered a caprese pizza and a chocolate lava cake with almond gelatin for dessert. It was all fabulous, the pizza had a thin crust and the cake was rich and decadent. It was a bit of a splurge for our first night but definitely worth it!
The flight in to Rome and train rides immediately after were hectic and I was incredibly relieved to make it to the Florence train station, Santa Maria Novella, where Gimena met us and we boarded the train to Pistoia. Not to say there weren’t some cool moments of the trip, but we were all so exhausted after being on the move for 12 hours! The ride through the country to reach Pistoia was beautiful.
When we reached Pistoia, Gimena had asked her husband to meet us and he picked up our suitcases and we walked the rest of the way to our hotel for the week, Residenza D’Epoca Puccini. We met the manager and he told us a little bit about the house which was home to the Puccini family who were active in the local community.
After we settled in, we walked to the hotel the embassy group was staying at, Villa de Cappugi for dinner and to mingle with the group. It was a long walk, about 30-40 minutes to the outside of town. It gave us all a chance to see a little bit of Pistoia our first day. Dinner was amazing and it was fun to meet some of the American Corners managers and directors. On the way back, we took a wrong turn and ended up in the Piazza de Duomo which was fully alive after being quiet when we came in. It was beautiful and all lit up for a festival of stars on Sunday.