Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What to do with four bare walls? The students will know.

Work in progress
In September, Nelson and I moved office. When we moved in, we had four bare walls. What to do? We called on our students, and they answered. We were flooded with suggestions.

Several recommended we put up a world map to allow students to mark where they were born and to underscore our international footprint. We bought the map -- with the southern hemisphere at the top. The map is now covered with flags showing where our students, who come from 39 different countries, were born.

Others suggested setting aside a section of wall where people could post pictures, postcards and other mementos. So we mounted a magnetic board that is gathering memorabilia and even has a chess problem set for the ambitious.

It was Kirsten Hansen and Paige Crosland who offered perhaps the most innovative suggestion: a mural.

Paint? Mural? What an unusual idea for an office. But we knew our students would come up with an appropriate proposal. The artists were inspired by a photograph that Kirsten took when she visited Bologna as a tourist three years ago. The picture depicted one of Bologna's most distinguishing features: its portici, or arches.

Paige and Kirsten started  the mural -- or better, fresco -- during the first semester.
Paige and Kirsten

We didn't know what to expect. But the end result far exceeds our expectations.

To express our appreciation, we held a brindisi (toast) in their honor last week. Classmates, faculty and staff gathered to congratulate the artists who have transformed our office and confirmed our conviction that SAIS Bologna students have many, many talents and a whole lot to offer the world.

Amina Abdiuahab

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