Today, at the end of this adventure, we can’t avoid thinking about the days before the Summer School started. And there is just one word that comes in our mind: challenge. It was a challenge, for us, because we had never done anything similar to this. It was a challenge because our research group, which was born only three years ago, had never worked with a foreign University; it was a challenge because we had never had to take lessons in English. And, above all, it was a challenge because we did not know how the people that we would have met were like. This is a problem that exists also when we take lesson to Italian students, of course. But in this case it was different. Everything was new. And, as a consequence, it was frightful.
The greatest difficulties were the bureaucratic and the administrative ones: Italian offices to all what is in their power to make life less easy as possible. But we tried to go through all those difficulties, and at the end we were successful, also thanks to your help.
Then the first day of the Summer School arrived. As soon as we saw you, we understood, at a glance, how big were your enthusiasm and your desire to learn new things. We understood that you were the ideal student that every teacher would like to have in his classroom. And so this adventure started. And finally fear disappeared.
The first day we followed with great interest Alex’s lesson; and we understood in a better way how many connections can be found among worlds that seem so distant: the world of the Literature and the Arts of the Middle Ages and the one of our new, technological era. We saw how interesting and stimulating can be a real interactive lesson, where students can intervene at any time to discuss matters and issues. In Italy it is very different; we always have lectures, and usually only the professor speaks. Students sometimes do questions, but always timidly. In your class it was very different: we appreciated a lot your way of actively taking part to lessons.
Then our own lectures started: we tried to explain to you something about the development of the history of our city, which in the Middle Ages had been the cradle of the oldest University of the world (which was the universal model of a way of teaching that is still used today). And we also tried to tell you how this University developed during the centuries, through the continuous sharing of knowledge among students and teachers, through anniversaries and celebrations and through the always developing (but not always easy) relationship between the Studium and the city of Bologna.
And then we tried to explain you something about our subject: Paleography. We tried to tell you when and how this discipline was born, and which are its main features. We tried to tell you who were those obscure people who, according to some scholars, created the first University, like our dear Irnerius; we tried to explain you the reason why we use the apostrophe in the world “don’t”; and we told you something about Justinian’s Code and about the reason why it is so difficult to read it on codes which are full of strange strokes. We tried to explain how the concept of author is fluid today as well as during the Middle Ages and we tried to make you understand why the Caroline minuscule is called like this, although it has not been invented by Charlemagne. And we tried to make friends with people like Carducci, Dante and Petrarca. We tried, above all, to convey an idea of the great difficulty, but also the great fascination of studying ancient writing systems.
We always use the expression “tried”: we use it because the task of teaching our subjects is not an easy one; neither when you speak the same language of your students. But we really hope, with our hearts, to have succeeded in this task.
Then we showed you something about Bologna: and in this case, everything was easier, because the beauty of the city does not need any further words. We went and see the place where the first Centenary of the University was celebrated – the Archiginnasio palace- and we went to visit the most important sacred placed of our memory, from the great Cathedral of St. Peter to the wonderful church of St. Mary of the Life. Then we went and see closely the most important documents which made the history of the city and of the Studium. We had to fight, sometimes, to take also the smaller picture. But, at the end, we won.
It would be too long now to recall all those things. But the memory of those two weeks will never get off our minds and our hearts.
Probably you may think that the work that preceded this Summer School was just an ordinary one, a part of our tasks. But we can assure you that it has not been like this. This Summer School has been the best thing for us, in a year that was really hard for all of us, both from a human both from the University point of view. For this reason, we will never get tired to thank you:
– First of all, thank you Alex: without you this project would have never started. Thank you for your kindness, for your courteousness and also for your wonderful English, which is always understandable.
– Thank you Alexandra, for your vitality, and for your deep interest in the Middle Ages (you wanted to visit the Medieval Museum for two times…THIS is true love!) and for your stain remover pen.
– Thank you Anna, for your gracefulness and your elegance; thank you also for your Italian origins (good blood doesn’t lie!).
– Thank you Brian, for your irony, your sarcasm and your patience (you and Alex were the only man among 7 women: it must have been hard!).
– Thank you Casandra, for your questions and your interest for our disciplines; and thank you also for your bath in the Venice lagoon!!!
– Thank you Elana for your sweetness, and also for the care you put in your own look (it was amazing when, at the BUB, you chose only two objects to take with you in the Library: your compact mirror and your lipstick).
– Thank you Elisabeth, for your niceness and also for your surname (Gilmore Girls was one of the nicest TV series of all the times!!!)
– Thank you Jennifer for all the work you did before we started this Summer School, and also because we envy you a bit because next week you will be in the wonderful city of Siena.
– Thank you Renata, for your enthusiasm and your diligence, but also for your WOWs, for the pictures taken everywhere and for your umbrella-pen.
So here we are, at the end of our adventure. We can say that work done for all this was sometimes hard and difficult. But we can also say that all this worth it. Totally.
And finally we would like to tell you how huge is our admiration for you, for many reasons: for your attention, because it never decreased; for your enthusiasm, because it really made us happy; for your patience, because sometimes our English was not that good.
Thank you to all of you for having been here, and for having given us the possibility of sharing some small drops of Science with you. We know, for sure, that they will not get lost.