are qualities you will find in students that venture abroad. Yesterday the third group of students has arrived for a three month study, live and art making experience in Certaldo Alto,  welcomed by the major, the Certaldo alto community and by an inspired welcome speech hold by Pietro Maddalena:

Life on earth binds us people to one another; none of us is here without the

other, so I would like to begin by paying homage to each of you and thank also all those anonymous workers, makers and thinkers that throughout the millennia have transformed this part of the world into such a beautiful place where we can nourish our intellects and souls. They have paved the path that leads us all here today, where we can forge new friendships, expand our human qualities and pursue a unique learning experience.

My name is Pietro.  I studied as an engineer first and then, in England, as a potter. I have been, with great satisfaction, a maker all my life. I have been sharing my knowledge for more than 30 years running a ceramic school. It has been an endlessly fulfilling experience.

So why are we here? I believe it’s for education. What does education mean? Here are a couple of definitions: Education is the progressive realization of our ignorance.- Albert Einstein. Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. -Oscar Wilde

It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life. At a time when our society changes so fast and technology is overwhelming your effort in education will give an invaluable lifeline to the past. And the past does matter. History has shaped the way we view the present , and therefore it dictates what answers we offer to exiting problems.

Whether it’s climate change or terrorism, economic recovery or the spread of nuclear weapons, the defining challenges of our time are shared challenges.  The only way forward, the only way to solve these problems, is by working together. That is why it is so important for young people to live and study in each other’s countries. That is  why, each of us, should develop the habit of cooperation, by immerging ourselves into someone else’s culture, by sharing our stories and letting them share theirs, by taking the time to get past the stereotypes and misperceptions that too often divide us.But you all know this. That explains why you are here.

What can I say but “bravo” !!!!

When questioned about intercultural development, 98 percent of respondents said that study abroad helped them to better understand their own cultural values and biases, and 82 percent replied that study abroad contributed to their developing a more sophisticated way of looking at problems and in considering solutions.

The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. So in conclusion let me make  a couple of recommendations: Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. Do not follow where the path may lead.  Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.

But, above all,  keep shooting for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

Find out more about study abroad at La Meridiana: