Student Ambassadors

If you would like to connect with a student ambassador to ask questions, please contact Joseph Tamagni, Italian School Coordinator, at italianschool@middlebury.edu.

Joseph Di Rezze

Hometown: Casalvieri, Italy

Program: Master's Summer Option

Current: Independent Filmmaker

What surprised you about your experience at the Middlebury Language Schools?

Although each summer is different, the progress students make by the end of each summer never ceases to amaze me. I always find myself having in depth conversations with students who initially found it very difficult to express themselves in my language, and it fascinates me just how much they have improved linguistically in such a short period of time.

Why did you choose to study at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I chose Middlebury to have the opportunity to study within this intensive context and also to study Italian cinema and literature in a unique environment. In Italy I am an independent filmmaker, and studying at Middlebury has significantly strengthened my understanding of Italian film and literature, which has in turn influenced my own work. And of course to have the opportunity to spend the summer in California!

What advice would you give someone wanting to attend the Italian School?

The advice I would give to new students is to look at this experience as if they were jumping into a cold river on a hot summer day. While the idea of total immersion into the unknown may be terrifying at first, after just a little while, you will adjust to the temperature of the water and find yourself swimming. Middlebury is a unique experience that is indeed an adventure into the unknown, and it is an experience that I can guarentee you will not regret.

Jessica Garten

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Program: Master's Summer Option

What surprised you about your experience at the Middlebury Language Schools?

The sense of community and belonging I found and how much I learned in six short summers. I did two summers as an undergrad in Italian level three and four, as well as four summers in the Italian MA program.

Why did you choose to study at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I travelled to Italy with my parents in 2011 after my History BA and fell in love with all things Italian. I took a few Italian classes as part of my first Masters in European history at Ohio University, and my Italian teacher recommended that I try the immersion setting. 

Please describe how your language skills improved due to your studies at Middlebury.

When I started at the Middlebury Italian School, I had very limited Italian skills. Now I consider myself fluent. I am the only person in my family to speak Italian, and I read, speak, and write Italian everyday with my friends from Middlebury. The Italian School has become a second family. I aspire to be a university professor of Italian one day and am interviewing for a possible postion at a local college.

Jacquelyn Schwartz

Hometown: Bondville, Vermont

Program: Master's Summer Option

Current: Student Success Coach, City Year

What surprised you about your experience at the Middlebury Language Schools?

What surprised me most about Italian school was how much we were able to fit into a short time. I had moments throughout each summer in which it seemed impossible, but with the support of the faculty and the close-knit, passionate community that quickly forms, students surpass what they initially thought they were capable of. Not only did my Italian improve dramatically, but I never could have anticipated how much I would grow as a person and how many useful skills I would gain that go far beyond being able to speak another language.

Why did you choose to study at the Middlebury Language Schools?

After studying abroad in Florence during my senior year at Syracuse University, I realized the importance of cultural exchange and that language is a key component. I was driven to learn Italian and immediately began to fall in love with the learning process. Weeks away from my graduation, I wondered how I could continue my studies. Luckily my Italian professor had attended the Middlebury Italian School and recommended it wholeheartedly.

Please describe how your language skills improved due to your studies at Middlebury.

I went to Italy after two summers in the seven-week program and was amazed by how much I was able to communicate. When I told people that I had primarily learned over the course of two summers, they were intrigued. I then returned after my initial summer in the graduate program and was able to identify how much I had continued to improve. My experience abroad became more profound and authentic, and I was able to actively participate within the community without communicative barriers. I was able to hold insightful conversations about cultural perspectives and global issues. I was also able to experience a different education system as I completed courses at the University of Florence. Going forward, I plan to continue my studies as an aspiring international education professional, and hope to pursue a career working with study abroad students in Italy.

What advice would you give someone wanting to attend the Italian School?

When I first began, the language pledge was overwhelming. I wondered how I could possibly express myself, or how I could survive a course without always knowing what the professor was explaining. Now, more confident both in my Italian and in myself, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I truly believe that without the language pledge, I would not have the skills that I have now. The language pledge offers an invaluable sense of vulnerability that opens your senses to completely absorb the learning process and the support of the faculty and students, make the experience unique and unforgettable. It’s absolutely worth it! Don’t be afraid of the challenge. The sense of pride and empowerment that you’ll feel at the end will be incomparable to any other type of academic satisfaction.

Elena Valeriote

Hometown: Vacaville, California

Program: Master's Year Abroad

Current: Middlebury MA in Italian in Florence, Italy

What surprised you about your experience at the Middlebury Language Schools?

By enrolling as a student at the Middlebury Language Schools I had expected to improve my Italian language skills, but I hadn't expected for the program to change my understanding of my native (English) language. Living by the Language Pledge, I developed a greater appreciation for the nuances of both Italian and English.

Why did you choose to study at the Middlebury Language Schools?

Prior to enrolling at Middlebury University, I had gained a basic understanding of Italian during my undergraduate education and during the time spent living and working in Italy on and off over the following years, but I was ready to commit to a more serious study of the language in order to pursue both my personal passion and my professional goals. Given the nature of the Language Pledge, I felt that the Middlebury Language Schools would offer the most rewarding, full-immersion experience.

Please describe how your language skills improved due to your studies at Middlebury.

After only six-weeks of the summer school program I noticed a significant improvement in my reading, writing, speaking and comprehension skills. As I am now living in Italy and continuing to study as a Middlebury student, my Italian language skills are an essential part of my daily life, allowing me to make personal and professional connections that would have otherwise been impossible.

What advice would you give someone wanting to attend the Italian School?

Don't miss out on this opportunity! 

Peter Winnard

Hometown: Gaithersburg, Maryland

Program: Master's Summer Option

Current: English Teacher to Italians

What surprised you about your experience at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I have attended the school's Italian summer program twice. Before going I was quite skeptical of how a "simulated" immersion experience would work, but Middlebury's was the real deal, and I was impressed by how faithfully and consistently everyone stuck to the target language. The professors were also highly eminent, at least in their respective country, with some writing for TV and others having published over 30 books.

Why did you choose to study at the Middlebury Language Schools?

The first time (in 2017), I studied at Middlebury because it was the only summer program available that enabled me to graduate in Italian AND English at Dickinson College through transfer credits. But principally, and also now with my Master's, I study at Middlebury because I want to improve my language skills drastically without any English distractions.

Please describe how your language skills improved due to your studies at Middlebury.

My conversational skills improved dramatically, as did my reading and writing skills. I was instilled with more confidence to use the language more frequently. Right now, my Italian has prepared me immensely for living in Milan--I currently teach Italian students English at IIS Cremona. I am an actor and in the future, I would like to act professionally in Italy.

What advice would you give someone wanting to attend the Italian School?

The improvement you experience may not be apparent to you. In hindsight, I realize how much I improved, but during the program, you may "feel" like you are stagnating. This is normal. I can now say, not only from what my professors have told me but also from my own writing, that the Middlebury program took my skills to the next level. You just need to be patient and trust in the process.

The Italian School

Sunderland Language Center
Middlebury College
P: 802.443.5727
F: 802.443.2075

Mailing address
Italian School
14 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT  05753

Joseph Tamagni, Coordinator
italianschool@middlebury.edu