Student focuses thesis, a documentary, on international relations

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- One Penn State student is taking the idea of a senior thesis and turning it around. Actually, she’s turning it into a documentary.

After studying abroad last spring in Italy, Ariel Siegelman -- who will graduate in May with degrees in film-video, Italian and international studies -- plans to produce a documentary about her experience as her required thesis for the Schreyer Honors College.

The honors college requires students to complete an undergraduate thesis as a culminating effort of their honors experience. Siegelman plans to focus on every-day life and preconceptions versus real experiences in Italy as part of her trip. She recognizes the large international community that is rising in Perugia, Italy, where she studied, and she hopes to showcase changes in the growing world and increases in bridged communities throughout the world.

In Perugia, located between Rome and Florence, Siegelman attended the University for Foreigners, where she was surrounded by students from all over the world. Her courses were focused entirely on her Italian major, but she spent time exercising her film-video skills by obtaining footage for her thesis.

Siegelman conducted interviews and filmed in and outside the classroom. She spoke with various sources in the town, including an English-to-Italian translation professor, a local pizza shop owner and a group of Chinese students, who represented the largest demographic at the university.

Siegelman, from York, Pa., found that dynamics between international communities are changing. She was able to speak English in Perugia and effectively communicate at any given time, but she knows that there is merit in knowing foreign languages. She recognizes the huge role that language plays in every culture and hopes her thesis will capture the importance of fostering understanding between different cultures.

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Last Updated January 10, 2014