May 17, 2013
Today we went to the cheese factory! It was super duper cool! I have a ton of pictures I want to add to the blog about the cheese making process, but those will have to come later. My internet is spotty. Anyways, it was awesome to see how cheese is made! The best Parmesan Reggiano cheese in the world comes from this area – because that’s where it originated! She said they run into legal problems all of the time because American companies claim they are making Parmesan Reggiano cheese when really they can’t, because the cheese didn’t come from Parma or Reggio Emilia. Much of the process in this factory is still done by hand. It’s weird to think that while you’re eating your cheese at home, some guy was sticking his hand in the milk mixture feeling to make sure the cheese was developing the right texture. The lady that gave us the tour said that, at one point in the process, it feels like you’re running your hands right over silk when you dip your hands into the milk cauldron vat thingys. After that a small group of us interviewed a principal. From my understanding, she was more like a superintendent than a principal because she was in charge of five different schools and over 900 students. It looked like we were in some kind of district office, but it wasn’t very clear. Anyways most of the students asked questions about parental involvement, but I was able to ask one question about curriculum development that related to the course I am taking at Clemson. I asked her about the standards for curriculum development. The government gives strict standards for the beginning and end of primary school, but not for the middle years. Even for those grades with strict standards, the teachers are free to figure out how they want to meet those standards in the classroom. She showed us a document that had some standards on it and those didn’t really seem very strict. It had things on it like understand and comprehend, develop relationships, and etc. So, basically, the principal gives the teachers room to do whatever they want in the classroom as long as the students are reaching their goals. She said that she values her teachers and doesn’t want to interfere with their method of teaching.
May 18, 2013
Today we took a day trip to Florence, or Firenze, as the Italians call it. I wonder why we have different names for cities like Florence, Venice, Munich, and other places. It would make sense to call all of the cities by the name the people there call it. I mean, New York is New York, right? Florence was absolutely beautiful! We took a bus in and got to see some of the Tuscan countryside. It was my favorite place by far. First, we went on walking tour around the city. It was really neat to see some of the major landmarks and find out a little bit of history. We saw Ponte Vecchio, the beautiful bridge with the little buildings on it that crosses the River Arno. We saw the Medici Chapel and the Uffizi Gallery. The city has beautiful, beautiful architecture and sculptures all around, especially in the Palazzo Vecchio. We went into the Accademia dell’Arte to see the David. Seeing the replica outside just didn’t do it justice. Admiring the grace and beauty of the REAL David was incredible. The other artwork was cool too. I am glad we went to the Galleria and not the Ufitzi though. I love artwork, but we only had limited time today and I felt like I saw a good bit and the Galleria. We climbed all 463 steps to the top of the Duomo. What an AMAZING cathedral and what an incredible view. I hate heights, but I kept reminding myself that the structure was probably the most sturdy I’ve ever been on! It’s been standing for hundreds and hundreds of years! The view was breathtaking. Simply breathtaking. Wow. So much of today’s experience can’t be put into words or captured in a picture. Knowing that great men like DiVinci and Michelangelo walked the same streets is awe-inspiring.