As a study-abroad student in Bologna, Italy, Mary Ritter ’23 volunteered in soup kitchens while learning about food and food insecurity in the city—a venture that combined her studies as a history and Italian-studies double major who’s also pursuing a food-studies certificate. She’s also helped develop a self-guided tour for an arts organization in her hometown and now serves a history-focused internship at the Cumberland County Historical Society. She also volunteers at the College Farm and combines her two majors by researching board games and toys in fascist Italy.
History and Italian studies, with a food-studies certificate.
Clubs and organizations:
College Farm (student-farmer), Multilingual Writing Center (Italian-language tutor) and Italian Club (president).
Marco Biagi Scholarship and Dean’s List.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.
Best thing about my major:
Learning Italian unlocked a new world for me. Thanks to my language skills, I’ve been able to watch Italian movies, listen to Italian music and even read the original texts of classic Italian authors like Dante and Bocaccio (thanks to Associate Professor of Italian James McMenamin’s Discourse of Love class). And my experience abroad was enriched by the relationships I formed with my Italian professors, my host family and locals. I would not have been able to experience these things without my knowledge of Italian.
Favorite place on campus:
Not technically on campus, but the Dickinson College Farm. Every time I go to the farm, physical exercise and hard work alleviates the stress of school.
On choosing Dickinson:
I was drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of the food-studies program, and to the College Farm and the possibility to study abroad for a year. I’m proud to say that I followed through on all those interests.
While I’ve taken many wonderful classes at Dickinson, one of my favorite learning experiences was my senior seminar for history. The topic of the class, which was taught by Professor of History Karl Qualls, was the History of Childhood, an area of history that was new to me, but that I found fascinating. For my final research paper, I was able to combine my two majors to study imperial board games and toys in fascist Italy. It was gratifying to use my knowledge of Italian and my background in historical research to produce what was, in many ways, a culmination of my four years at Dickinson. While the course was challenging, I grew as a scholar and as a writer.
As I kid, I wanted to be …
… a writer and illustrator and, for a brief period, a dentist.
On studying abroad:
I studied abroad for a year in Bologna, Italy. A highlight of my time abroad was volunteering at two soup kitchens in Bologna. It was very meaningful to use my language skills to help the community and make connections with some of the kindest and most welcoming people I have ever met. It also gave me insight into food insecurity in Bologna and how Italian food culture plays a role in the menus and service of the soup kitchens.
About my internship:
Last summer, I interned at the Hartman Rock Garden, a historic rock garden in Springfield, Ohio, and this semester, I’m doing an internship at the Cumberland County Historical Society, right here in Carlisle. During my summer internship at the garden, which is a small and quirky site that attracts a diverse group of visitors, I helped develop a new self-guided tour and updated the site’s inventory of art objects. Although I’ve only worked at the historical society for a couple weeks, I’ve already learned how to enter donations in a database and how to clean and label objects, and I will help create the next temporary exhibit.
Read more Student Snapshots.
Published March 10, 2023