An opportunity for Guilford College students to live and learn at a 12th century castle in the Italian Alps has been named one of the nation’s best study abroad programs.
The Best College Reviews website ranked Guilford’s Brunnenburg Semester second on its 50 Best Study Abroad Programs in America list.
Students reside in the castle “croft,” which accommodates 14, and study the poetry of Ezra Pound, medieval culture, the history of agriculture, the slow food movement and German. Each Tuesday they participate in a workday on the castle’s farm and surrounding vineyards.
“Programs like Brunnenburg show students they can do things they never imagined, with people they might not have known, in places they never have been, and in ways they never believed,” said Kyle Dell, an associate professor of political science who led the program in 2013.
“How can one do those things and not come away knowing more about yourself and what you can do?”
The castle, situated above the spa town of Merano near the Austrian border, has breath-taking views of the entire valley. Its location allows students to make weekend trips to Munich, Vienna, Verona, Venice and other cities.
The castle belongs to Mary de Rachewiltz, the daughter of American poet Ezra Pound, and serves as an international Pound study center as well as the home of a museum of alpine agricultural history.
The semester involves many short trips, often by foot, in the South Tyrol region. Students shop in the nearby village of Dorf Tirol and do much of their own cooking.
The setting is unique, but there are many qualities that the Brunnenburg Semester shares with the Guilford College campus, said Kyle, who is leading the program again during the upcoming spring semester.
“Teaching and learning in small groups, encountering ideas and responsibilities that challenge your worldview and daily comforts, and moving forward as a community of learners is the very model which Guilford has used as a residential liberal arts college.”