profiles of AMS students:
The Global Stride program
allows to apply their stipends toward
study-abroad costs or intensive language programs. As part
of the Global Stride scholarship, the fellows interviewed
and profiled international students in the college’s
graduate program in American Studies, to help familiarize
them with people who have made cultural transitions.
The Gate is publishing
their profiles in an occasional series.
By Eleana Thompson '16,
Global Stride Fellow
GR, of Italy, American Studies Diploma program
For Domenico Mazza, who is spending
this year 5,000 miles away from his home country as a graduate
student in Smith’s American Studies Diploma Program, the
term “home” has several points of reference.
Mazza grew up
in Messina, Italy, the third largest city on the island of
Sicily, before moving to Florence in 2006, then to the island
Republic of Malta for 5 months, on to Lisbon, Portugal’s
capital, for one year, and finally back to Florence, where
he graduated from the University of Florence with a degree
in government and foreign affairs.
With internships, work
programs, and his educational pursuit keeping him on the
move for much of his life, Domenico is no stranger to adjusting
to unfamiliar environs—even if it’s a women’s college in
For Domenico, being at Smith
suits his educational trajectory perfectly. “Here, I have the opportunity
to challenge myself intellectually with the best,” he says.
Although he never imagined studying
at an American college when he was younger, his upbringing
in Europe helped his transition to Smith.
“Europe has given me the beauty of differences of understanding and exploring
new cultures,” he explains. “If you travel 30 minutes by train even just in my
region, it will be very different from Tuscany or Rome.”
An experienced supporter of
study abroad, Domenico describes the European Union as “the largest melting pot you will know,” due to the distinct national groups
juxtaposed within its boundaries. The intellectual and cultural opportunities
found in Europe and in America vary significantly, he notes, and in order to
gain an accurate global perspective, Domenico believes one must experience the
variety first hand, just as he has throughout his education—and as he is now
While a male student in Smith
classrooms is not the norm, Domenico does not consider his
gender among mostly women his most distinguishing factor. “I
think it is the age gap,” he admits. As a graduate student on a mainly undergraduate
campus, a solid four years separates Domenico from the majority of students here.
During his first two weeks on
campus last September, Domenico recalls feeling separated
from the rest of the student body. “The first two weeks were strange,” he
says. “I felt the silence and chatter when I passed everywhere.”
But he quickly settled in as
a Smith student, and by now feels comfortable here, at “one of the most prestigious educational settings in the world,” he says.
Besides, he adds, “I love contradictions and paradoxes.”