Dear HUF friends,
A year ago I wrote:
Mona and I have been blessed beyond measure to serve for the past 22 years with Harding’s program in Florence. Working with an incredible staff of highly skilled individuals makes my job as Director a true joy. The thousands of students that I have been able to share Italy with during their semester abroad have left changed, but they also have changed those which they met; myself included. The HUF experience has so much to offer and its doors are open to everyone, from the art lover seeing the renaissance city to the explorer looking for new lands to conquer.
Well, the words above are still true. Mona and I have now started our 24th year at HUF. Words are hard to find at times to express how blessed I feel to work with the students that continue to sign up and come to HUF, as well as with the teachers and their families that choose to work and experience HUF.
February 11 I went to Abetone with the group, skied for three days and on the third one I ran into a guy. No one's fault really; we just did not see each other. I thought I broke my lower leg, but it is healing. I ended up hobbling around Rome. Even with a bit of pain, I loved sharing Rome with the students. From the catacombs of St. Sebastian and our devotional there to the Circus Maxentius to St. John in Lateran to the underground of St. Clement and the reading of the letter from Paul to the Romans, to the Colosseum, to the forum to Piazza Campidiglio, etc. etc.. One student asked me how many times have I visited Rome, I guess about 100 times I said. Visiting Rome and places like this with the group never grow old.
We continue to try to enhance the HUF program. This year we are working on a new style of learning and developing a new curriculum for the Italian class. With the help of the Mayor of Scandicci's wife, Elisabetta Santanni, we are doing a language exchange with the students at the local Scientific and Language Lyceum (High School). We have also had the opportunity of language exchange with a program called "English for Pasta". The "English for Pasta" program has allowed students to get to know italian families while eating with them in their homes in exchange for helping their children with their English lessons. Due to Mayor Gheri's openess to working with HUF students, we have been able in recent years to do many service oriented projects with the city of Scandicci.
There's a specific project, dear to my heart, that I wanted to share with you. It's called the "Help the Children, Florence" project. I, along with other University programs and private businesses in Scandicci and Florence, have been partnering with this project for the past 3 years. Organizations like the Tuscan American Association, the U.S. Consulate, the City of Florence and the City of Scandicci are involved. Soon the website – www.helpthechildrenflorence.org – will be available for you to view and will better explain this project. Many of you know Alessandro Guiducci, the HUF villa maintenance and grounds keeper. He is married to Chiara Azzari Guiducci, a medical doctor who serves as the the Villa's on-call doctor, who is spearheading the research on this project. HUF has been on the forefront of working to help fund this research to help Italian children and children in other parts of the world.
In other news, we've redesigned our blog and photos website. We hope you'll check back from time to time for updates on the students, HUF and the church in Florence.
May the Lord richly bless you all. VVB.