Spotlight on SPEL

By Caylee Brand 

Florence University of the Arts – The American University of Florence highly prioritizes experiential learning, and one of the many ways they promote it is through their SPEL program.
SPEL stands for Special Project Experiential Learning, and FUA-AUF offers these programs in a wide variety of academic fields spanning from hospitality to cooking to business and many more. For example, one SPEL student, Brittney Rudat, works for the Student Life Department (SLD) at their front desk to assist with event planning and respond to student inquiries.

Rudat is a senior finishing her degree from Central Michigan here at FUA-AUF. She initially heard about the SPEL program through her home university’s study abroad advisor and was intrigued by the hands-on and immersive learning style it provides. The program runs similarly to an internship, however, it may be a more approachable option for students who do not speak Italian, as it is run completely through the English-speaking school.

SPEL students may work for the school restaurant or hotel, or help by contributing to the school’s magazine or social media. In this way, the school forms a symbiotic relationship with its students; FUA-AUF educates and mentors students to develop a stronger skillset in an area of interest and in return, students contribute to running their various facilities. As Rudat explained, “[her] main project of the semester is working on a social media plan for the Student Life Department.” However, on top of that, she answers student questions and phone calls at the front desk and attends FUA-AUF events like city walks, sports night, and mind and body sessions. She stated that sports night is her favorite event, as “it is fun to see everyone get competitive and it is welcome to both people who wanted to play and people who wanted to watch.”

Rudat says that her schedule for the SPEL is fairly flexible; she has a few five-hour shifts per week and otherwise will complete work from home. She explains that her two FUA-AUF staff mentors are incredibly helpful in answering any questions she has and giving useful advice. When asked if she would recommend a SPEL to a prospective FUA student, Rudat said, “Yes, especially if the student is interested in a more hands-on learning approach and experiences versus classroom-style learning.”

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