Study Abroad in Northern Italy 2018
Today I had the awesome opportunity of being a able to visit a very important green economy incubator. This being the Progetto Manifattura multipurpose space. Here, it was once a main tobacco
producer and manufacturer, and also was one of the main employers for women. Women have slightly smaller hands, making them better cigar and cigarette producers. This factory had also one of the first
day care centers for the women laborers. It was interesting to find out that men placed a high value of pride on their wives if they had a position at the factory.
Finally in 2008, the province of Trento bought the former plant and started the green renovations. Before it became a green technology and sustainable hub, the factory was in operation for around 150
years. The master plan was then accepted by the provincial order in 2010. Since then, they have given great opportunities to more than two hundred green companies. In the beginning of the visit, we had the chance to see the vision of a young entrepreneur who wants to
make buying and renting an electric vehicle more accessible. I love his ideas because of the user friendly interface and simple design for such a complex search. Really want to use his site now for my own
search for an electric bicycle.
Today we visited a highschool, with a few university classes, that was focused on wine making as well as maintaining a sustainable environment. They taught agriculture to their students, and because of the focus on farming and brewing their students excelled in the sciences, biology and chemistry. Furthermore they also had classes on forestry, and had slabs of wood from nearby forests. The students who were interested in wine or cheesemaking also had booths to practice their salesmanship. The buildings were loaded with solar panels, which was incredibly cool for a highschool. They also had the specific stackable trash cans we had previously seen at the recycling plant which was a very cool callback.
Today’s visits taught me a great deal not just about sustainability and green businesses, but also about Italy in general. For one thing, I’m not sure I would do very well in Italy’s education system, or at least not at the Fondazione Edmund Mach. Besides the fact I don’t speak Italian, I don’t really think the way they do. I personally believe very strongly in studying a diverse range of subjects, although of course, I understand the importance of starting early in certain subjects, such as wine tasting. I also found it fascinating how the school was originally a castle that became a monastery. The idea that a castle was built in 1145 on top of another castle that then became a monastery and is now a school that boasts a “winery” is truly using your resources to the fullest. If there’s space why shouldn’t one use it? This concept was also demonstrated at the Progetto Manifattura which used to be a cigarette factory that is now a place that “destroys people’s dreams.”
History is truly an amazing thing that can also be tied to saving the environment because turning these old buildings that used to be monasteries, castles, or factories into something “modern,” is saving resources. As we reuse old buildings with history, we don’t have to worry about creating new buildings, which would pollute the environment and decrease “nature’s space.” This also keeps a region’s history, which I think is important.
I also loved seeing the passion of the people we heard from today. They truly love what they do, and I hope someday, we all find jobs that we are as excited to go to in the morning as they are about theirs.
Today we visited the FEM school that was focused on allowing students to explore sustainability in fields that seem unconventional to us; they had classes on wine tasting, wine production, agriculture, forestry, etc. I thought that was such an interesting way to promote learning and peak both youths’ and young adults’ interests in areas that are so important but not often thought of (at least in the US). If I was just entering high school, I would definitely fill out an application!
After the school we went to Progetto Manifattura, which was an old cigarette factory converted into a green tech hub. Learning about the history of the building was interesting, but I really enjoyed learning about the company. I found the purpose behind the company to be really innovative; Christian really seemed like someone who cared about the well-being of the people in this region and his business endeavors represented this. I also had no idea that Trentino produced so much GDP; he said that the 10% (now 30%) they were required to give back to Italy’s government was worth more than many other regions.
Today we visited an agricultural and environmental school, and a toured a start up company. I was so inspired to see a school that focused mainly on the environment and agriculture. Even though the schools most sucessful classes are in biology and chemistry, the school also teaches various trades, conducts research, and even has PhD programs. Additionally, the school has acquired various historical collections of insects, birds, and other various mammals. There was even a skeleton of a cow on display, that students actually use during animal husbandry courses. Aside from being a research and trade institute, the school also has wine tasting programs, and even a professional wine tasting lab. The institute has earned many rewards for their wines, and I was intrigued to learn that during wine tastings, the counter and walls must be light colors, almost white, in order to not affect the color of the wine. The institute also gives students chances to sell their products, allowing them to both be exposed and educated as to the social and business aspects of their trade. Overall, I enjoyed this visit, because, as an environmental science major, I am used to being a minority on Whittier’s campus, however, I was inspired to see the success and number of students at the school, all passionate about the environment.
Today I had the awesome opportunity to visit the FEM agricultural school and the Progetto Manifattura tech hub and take a deeper look into what it is that they really do. The FEM agricultural school was one of the most impressive things I’ve seen on the trip so far in terms of their operations and output. Students attend the school specifically because they want to go into a specific field within agriculture and the majority of students go to become versed in the field of wine making and vine cultivation. Aside from Future Farmers of America (which is really an after school program), there are no real schools completely devoted to agriculture and creating an educated farmer in the area I live in and the school itself was a spectacle for all that goes into the agricultural field. What impressed me most about the entire school was the wine tasting room that was used to educate students about the profession and teach them how to describe the taste of wines and understand the flavors they are tasting; that is something that I would never think to be present in a high school. The entire school was centered around sustainable professions and teaching students about how to make a living off of the earth in the correct fashion.
After FEM, we made the hour trek to Progetto Manifattura, a tech hub in Rovereto. What I found most interesting about this company was their overall business plan; they take startups who’s goal is centered around green technology or sustainability and give them a place to grow comfortably until the company is ready to enter the market and stay in the market. Progetto Manifattura requires a fee of one euro per day over the course of 12 months from these startups and over this course of time, they get the company ready and help them form the tools necessary to pitch to investors. It was a really cool experience to be able to visit this hub of green technology that was built in a renovated cigarette factory and great to see that there are still companies who are committed to making a difference and helping the little guy out.
The day started off with a drive up north to San Michele all’Adige where we began with a tour of the Fondazione Edmund Mach school. The school is located a little bit north of Trentino, and it focuses on multiple areas of study, including the environment, forestry, farming, biology, and chemistry. The Mach school was founded by Edmundo Mach in 1874 and has focused on the areas of studies mentioned before since its creation. When the school as established, it was part of Austria and so because of this, the school has some of its textbooks written in German as well. An interesting aspect of this school is that they have connections with other similar schools around Europe, including Germany, so students have the flexibility to go and study abroad in another country while still learning about the same curriculum that would be taught at their school in Italy. It was very cool to tour their campus, as our guides highlights areas of the school such as the wine tasting classroom, where students would learn how to taste wine, or the wine producing section, where the school has a production facility and wine cellar as well as distillery. It became apparent that the focus on sustainability in the Trentino region starts with the educational levels, and it was a testament to witness this school and all of it’s unique features in the heart of Trentino. After our tour of the school, we headed south to the town of Rovereto, where we visited Progetto Manifattura, a green tech hub in Trentino as well which provided consulting services and help to startup companies throughout Italy and other international areas with the goal of improving the business success of green companies. The province of Trentino mainly compensates Progetto Manifattura, because they have success with building startups which in the end will help the province and the rest of Italy much more because of the jobs that they will provide and also the economic success that follows with the growth of these companies within the region. This success is seen in the contribution that the Trentino province provides to the rest of Italy, as they make up the largest share of GDP for any other region in Italy. I thought it was awesome that this company was so selfless in their goal of making money, and rather that their business model is set up in a way to help the entire province instead by improving and sustaining the high quality of life which is seen throughout the region. We even had the chance to see an example of what they go through on a day to day basis, as we learned about a young company which they had recently taken under their belt, and has helped fund to get them to grow to a larger company. Lastly, like many of the other areas we visited, Progetto Manifattura also reutilizes an old building and has repurposed it from an old cigarette factory to their headquarters and green tech hub which they use as office spaces for their new companies in a way that also cultivates the sharing of ideas between them as well.
It was definitely a culture shock to learn that at fourteen years old, you can choose your career path in Italy. In general, the Italian education system is a lot different from America. I really appreciated the tour of FEM. Although it is different in America, it is inspiring to see so many kids entering the environmental science and agriculture field. I left FEM confident that my generation is capable of finding news ways to preserve the environment because of those students involvement in that school. It is also so unique that FEM produces their own wine and spirits, and just recently started making their own honey. Visiting the school and learning about what sets them apart from other Italian educational institutions was a privilege. Our visit to the Progetto Manifattura really convinced me of how much the province of Trentino stands out. There is nothing similar to the Progetto Manifattura in Northern Italy. They have 1.2 billion in assets and only make the companies they are helping pay 1€ a day. There is nothing like it. Not only is the Progetto Manifattura special because it helps new businesses, but it has taken the place of a cigarette producer. I interpreted this as a new and modern enterprise taking the place of an older enterprise.
First we went to FEM, or Fondazione Edmund Mach agriculture school and university. It is a 14 acre campus with about 1000 students, 120 researchers, 50 doctorate students, over 100 teachers, over 150 technicians and technologists, and supports over 8000 farms. In the school, students ages range from 14-19, hosting courses in farming, agriculture, wine tasting and production, and more. The school, however, is just one part of the institution, with it also having a research center and technical center that helps and supports farmers. It is also a university and has PhD courses as well. The institution started in 1874 and Edmund Mach was the founder and first director who was from Austria. Schools from around Europe partner with them that are also environmental schools so that students have a network they can benefit from. Students craft and manufacture things and they exchange gifts with each other. They have a very old partnership with a German school for over 50 years where students can travel between schools for years at a time. They have wine tasting rooms, chemistry labs, a library with many resources for their specific studies, and more. There is an Entry test for students to get into school which is rare for an Italian school but had to in order to set a standard for students. They also have Vocational training course where students Learn how to use their hands by Learning how to make beer, cheese, and cider, later becoming manufactures for these kinds of products. Once every two months they sell products to buy raw products to continue the cycle. This here allows them to also learn skills in selling to people. Out of the 120 acres of land, half of it is dedicated to apple trees and the other half to grape vines.
Then we went to Progetto Manifattura, a green innovation factory. They describe themselves as a local development agency of this region that help start ups get to the markets. For just one euro a day for 12 months this company gives these start ups a place to work and help get their dreams ready for investors to make it in the real world. They Talk and meet many times talking about intellectual property, networking, expertise, how many people on team and more. at the end of the 12 months, they must understand if they should go into the market, have the right team, and more so they can bring the idea to investors and match the amount they are offered. There are over 100 companies going now with over 600 start ups that have gone through the process so not everyone’s dreams actually make it though. They have 1.2 billion in physical assets and a turnover of about 500 million.
The building it’s located in used to be a cigarette factory, built in 1864. It was important because a lot of people, especially women, got their income from this factory back then. Most of employees here were women because they have smaller hands to make cigars and cigarettes. It was also Important for women to have a job outside of being at home.
Today we visited an Italian school called FEM (Fondazione Edmund Mach) which is an agriculture school and research center. Majority of their students attend their school for wine making/tasting and the agricultural side of wine. I think that is interesting because it is a very serious thing to study here and it seems pretty common to study it but in the US it is kind of unheard of to get your degree in wine making. But, the school is entered into wine competition and they win more often than not. FEM is full of Italian and German speaking students because when the school was founded that region had still belonged to Austria. We were able to go into one of the oldest rooms on the campus today which was the wine cellar. It had huge barrels of wine that held 500L of wine in each barrel and there were hand crafted wood sketches on the front of each barrel that represented special events but they had to stop creating the barrels because they ran out of space. I also learned that the tables in the wine tasting rooms had to be a light color because the tasters needed to see the color of the wine without any background issues. The school also has an amazing collection of historic pieces dating back to the 1800’s. In their library they have around 5,500 books and 5,800 magazines which is an incredible amount of resources considering they only have 1,000 students attending the school.
Seeing all the things we did today, at the school and at the old tobacco factory, I think it is amazing how much Northern Italy has preserved their past but they still are growing from it and keep it around them so they can see how far they have come without losing sight of where they came from.
The trip is slowly coming to an end, we had our second to last day of adventures. Today we visited the FEM school which consists of a high school, university classes, and a PHD program. From what I gathered it is a very prestiges school and requires an entry exam which was implemented in the past four years. This entry exam is a new concept among schools in Italy since they usually accept everyone that applies. The majority of students attend this FEM school to study topics surrounding the environment, but mostly wine. They have one of the oldest partnerships with Germany in order to help students travel and continue their studies in different parts of Europe. This partnership has lasted fifty years, and have continued to keep it even when countries are fighting each other. From what I gathered this school had grown an immense amount over the years and pride themselves on the types of workers an experts they produce in their time there. Their acceptance rate for their PHD program is seventy percent. If I was able to speak Italian I would definitely look into that, but for now that is fairly out of reach. I found it so interesting that they have a whole school dedicated to an environmental learning center. I think that it shows a direct representation of how important agriculture is to this region and how they continue to create progress and innovation in this field.
The second destination that we headed to today was tech hub that used to be a cigarette factory which was built in 1854. The tech hub did not want to change the way that the building was set up or renovate it at all. The reasoning behind this was that they wanted to keep the knowledge and history alive. Even if they have to remodel they make sure to keep the original design and to not remodel completely. In spite of this they have a very environmentally friendly building, which I found to be very intriguing that even with conserving the history they can achieve that goal of sustainability. Some of the history that was involved with the site that we learned about today was that most of the workers there were woman because they made the cigarettes fairly well. Men sought out for these woman because it was almost a status symbol to marry them since they were paid fairly well in their time This company was the first to have a daily child care in Italy that was connected to a job profession. The system of payment was interesting because they were not paid a monthly salary that we are accustomed to, but they would be paid based on the amount of product they could produce. There were three to four thousand workers there at its peak employment, and they were mostly woman. This tech hub helps start up companies with innovative ideas get their foot in the door. The cigarette company allowed woman to make a living which was new for its time as well. These two things are almost similar in that aspect and I find it amazing that they can share some history together and continue to change peoples lives.
The FEM agricultural school we visited today was a great example of community outreach and keeping current culture and innovation progressing throughout history. The school appeared to be a very progressive school in the field of advancement of their students and the changing world and economic environment around the Trento region. They are also very great at creating relationships with other institutions and therefore have a sister school in which they share items that are made on each campus with each other. This relationship has been over 50 years old now. Not only that but the school is very smart in that since they are an institution focused on forestry, applied Biology, and agriculture, they also produce vine on their campus and sell it both abroad and locally. This allows for profit made from the school to be re-spent within the institution to help the future generation of students. The campus hosts over 130 hectares to grow crops on. Aside from the school we visited, we also visited the Green Innovation Factory which was an institution that focused on helping to give startup companies a place to learn and grow for just one Euro a day. Their focus is to help them connect with the provincial government to acquire money but the end goal is to introduce them to investors who will supply much more money if successful in convincing them. They have over 100 company’s and 15 new startups and have plans to expand even more.
I have never been more blown away by a campus or schooling system in general. It was crazy to me that the children here basically choose their lifetime career at the young age of 14. I had never heard of a wine school before. It seems like it would be interesting to attend a day of class with them. I would complain being that I get to go to a wine tasting class. It was cool to know that they also offer other disciplines within the sciences and that their students exit with a wealth of knowledge that is visible to possible employers. Visiting this school really showed me how different Europe is from the states when it comes to education. I would almost consider it an art here in Italy. Following the school we visited a company that offers support to start up company’s that fall under green technology. It was cool to see this kind of infrastructure for green technology. We even got to listen to a presentation given by a start up CEO. It’s so cool to see people find success in green tech being that the planet needs to make a change. I cant wait to see what tomorrow has in store for us.
Today we visited the green tech hub progettoo manifattura. It was one of the most interesting visits that we’ve been on as we got to speak with Cristian who is at the managerial level and one of their clients who is actually in the process of debuting his website called Evclick. Cristian provided some great insight into what it takes to become a start up and maintain it and why start ups are so important to the Trentino area. They are so important because Trentino is autonomous which means that their economy is autonomous as well. They have to continuing pushing jobs and innovations in order to maintain the steady economy that they enjoy right now. I thought it was interesting to learn that they rejected a coal plant that could have brought in at least 200 jobs because they wanted only clean and green innovation and energy in their community. This is something that I think a place such a America can learn a lot from meaning that not all markets and jobs will ultimately benefit the people or the environment in the surrounding area. The Evclick presentation was especially interesting because we saw first hand what Cristian and the rest of the team at the hub do and produce. Evclick is a website like trivago but instead of hotels he collects data Tom E-Vehicles. I think this was a great investment as E-Vehicles are a growing market. Over all these presentations were very enlightening and think that we learned a lot about what green energy can really do for a community as well as what it can do on a personal level!
We went to a school today known as FEM (Edwin Mach Foundation). It is a 14 hector campus that includes a high school, university, research program, and technical center. The high school has students 14-19 years old and offers students classes in forestry, environmental science, climate change,and sustainability. A very popular field of interest their students go into is wine tasting and production. It was so cool to see the rooms they use to teach wine tasting. It those classes there are light colored tables so that the students could really see the color of wine. The professor stands in the middle of the room and explains the tastes they should be getting from those wines. The students at this high school score very high in biology and chemistry and are very well prepared for college. Many companies actually request employees that attended this school.
We also visited the cellar in the administrative building which was originally built as a monk monastery. It was so beautiful and cool to see the big 500 liter barrels with handmade carvings on the front. I felt very lucky to be in there since not many tourists are allowed in the cellar. This trip was one of my favorites.
I really enjoyed getting to visit Fondazione Edmund Mach (FEM) an agriculture school and research center. Our guides, a teacher at the school and the assistant dean were so welcoming and really sold the school very well. This school is one that has rapidly grown and is well respected and notable. They have a partnership with a German school and this partnership is one of the oldest in Europe. They were proud to tell us this because they felt that “it’s important that students travel between the schools” something I totally agree with. In addition, they reminded us of the fact they were able to maintain their connection shows even though countries have been fighting with each other, they were able to stay connected. Their library was very nice and I think our library at Whittier could improve if we implemented a few of their practices. It is open to the school but also anyone interested in studying the discipline. It has a collection of 5,500 books and 5,800 magazine subscriptions and the majority of the library books specialize in food production and nutrition and biology. I also thought it was great when she mentioned they have most of their books in electronic form. Another unique fact about the library/school was that some of the books are in Italian and German because when the school first started it was in Austria/Germany.
OH! Aside from the library, my other favorite part of the school was a chair in the middle of the hallway with a piece of paper on it with lots of different informational bubbles. They let us know that the purpose of the chair was to remind the males at the school of information about violence against women. I think it’s great this school starts conversations about that topic early and doesn’t shy away from discussing a real issue.
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