At the end of a scenic train ride with views of the Alps we arrived in Lugano in the late afternoon on Thursday. We quickly caught another train for a short ride to Lugano Paradiso where we were staying. After managing to get all of our luggage off the train one last time we pulled it down the hill to our hotel on Lake Lugano. Air conditioning was a welcome relief and after a short rest we assembled to trek back up the hill to the train station and a brief ride to Capolago-Riva San Vitale, the location of the Virginia Tech villa. The walk to the villa from the train took about 15 minutes and we stopped briefly to view the oldest church in Switzerland dating to the 7th century. At the villa we were greeted by Daniella who takes care of the facility and assists with the planning for the various programs. She gave us a history of the villa. Several students who had participated in the program were present for a reception. We chatted and then were treated to a wonderful meal in the garden. It is clear that much dialogue and discussion takes place over a meal in Europe.
Friday morning we set out for the villa at 8:30. The rest of the morning we met again with the students to hear more about their experiences. We were also joined by students from the University of Basel and Eric Thaler who we had met with in Basel. These students had also participated in the global perspectives program and Global Summit. The students were impressive and represented diverse backgrounds and fields including biology, computer science, and law.The value of the experience to the students was clearly evident. At the end of our conversation we joined in one last delicious communal meal at the villa, said our goodbyes and headed back to the train.
I am still digesting all that I have learned and ate on this trip and thinking of ways to develop a program for FSU graduate students. I truly thank Karen DePauw for organizing this unique experience with help of her assistant Justin and I enjoyed the fellowship of the other graduate deans.