CAS '21 Jenna DiStefano

PGS: Travel to Italy

Program Abroad:

  • Penn Global Seminars (PGS): Disability Rights and Oppression: Experiences within Global Deaf Communities, Italy

Ask me about...

  • Going abroad for the first time and traveling without family

  • Using LIS (Italian Sign Language) abroad. While in Italy, I took seminars (almost like crash courses) in LIS. During some dinners, I was challenged to use LIS the entire time to engage with Deaf Italians. This was very difficult, yet rewarding.

  • Health abroad. In addition, I struggle with a chronic illness which put me in a very foreign Italian hospital for over 4 hours. This was terrifying, yet interesting to experience healthcare in a different country. Anyone can certainly ask me what it is like using ISOS and dealing with health issues abroad!

My Experience Abroad:

Since my first semester at Penn, I have taken ASL classes and have been involved with the ASL/Deaf Studies program in the College. Taking this course allowed me to learn about the experiences of Deaf communities globally. During the travel component which went to Siena and Rome, I was given the opportunity to participate in lectures and seminars pertaining to Italian Deaf culture/history and Italian Sign Language (LIS). I was also able to engage with members of the Italian Deaf community to hear about their personal experiences. All of this supported my interest in Deaf Studies and allowed me to add more concepts, theories, and a whole different language to my toolbox.

Other Highlights:

  • Having gelato every day (sometimes even twice a day)!

  • Visiting Vatican City, and having our tour given to us completely in Italian Sign Language.

  • Eating dinner the Italian way--having 3+ courses every day!

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