Tag: Italy

Reflections on the Amanda Knox/Meredith Kercher Case (February 2011)

Amanda Knox, Original artwork by Hiroshi Mizuno

Tonight, I watched Lifetime Channel’s version of the Amanda Knox conviction. As an international educator, I felt I needed to watch this movie. As a journalist, I have tried to keep my opinion out of my writing.  I have tried to instead focus on what this case has meant for study abroad.

For study abroad, I believe this case should have meant a huge wake up call.  I am repeatedly surprised by how few of my colleagues agree. I have been told on more than one occasion that our role is simply to inform students that local laws preside. But should our job also include giving them a sense of what the local laws could mean in their lives abroad by providing more specific detail?  Is it our responsibility, morally and ethically, to spend quality time explaining the local laws and illustrating the gaps between local laws and that of the home country? Should we also be communicating with parents/guardians about how we would need to work together with clear action steps during times of crises?

Or do we say “not my job.”

Please let me be clear here:  I am not pointing fingers at anyone in this particular case.  I haven’t contacted Ms. Knox’s home school to ask them what they did/didn’t do.  That isn’t the point. Instead, I am here to raise questions about how we, as professionals, might operate in our field and to encourage discussion.

And this case, in my opinion, deserves a lot more discussion.

What happened to Ms. Knox in Italy is something we should ALL be concerned about.  It should have raised a serious discussion about pre-departure information and emergency planning in study abroad.

Let’s face it – At the end of the day, do you want to be sitting in front of the TV and see Hayden Pannetiere playing one of YOUR study abroad students on Lifetime’s Monday night movie?

I sure don’t.

At this juncture, I can’t share my opinion about what I think happened.  Perhaps in the future, but not at this time. Those who know me as a friend and close colleague do know my feelings about the case and will vouch for me when I do eventually write about it.

For now, I can share this: I strongly believe that our field should be talking about what prevents us from talking with our students, in much more detail, about the realities of what can happen in a different legal system.

So, I’ll ask again: How has your campus changed its policies/processes related to emergency and safety planning as a result of the Amanda Knox case? If the answer is “my campus hasn’t,” what would you like to see your campus do differently?

For those of you who want to answer but are afraid of being “identified,” I will simply say that you can comment on this blog anonymously.  Your name will not appear on my website and I will not know who you are, nor will any of our readers.

I invite your feedback.  In fact, I crave a hearty discussion about this case.  I challenge you to have one with me.

(NOTE:  I am referring to the question above – How has your campus changed its policies/processes related to emergency and safety planning as a result of the Amanda Knox case? If the answer is “my campus hasn’t,” what would you like to see your campus do differently? I am NOT asking you to have a hearty discussion about whether or not Amanda Knox killed Meredith Kercher.  She was convicted of doing so and the case is under appeal.  If you want to debate her guilt or innocence, this is NOT the site to do so at – there are plenty of other sites for that, so please visit them instead.)

In closing, I wish peace to all of those involved in this horrific case.  Needless to say, may Meredith Kercher, a reportedly delightful young woman from England who was studying abroad in Italy and brutally murdered, rest in peace.

We Apologize in Advance: “The Jersey Shore” Goes to Italy

I've written about the "ugly American" syndrome. I've written about the value of going abroad to learn about your host country and yourself. And today, I'm apologizing for what I expect will be nothing by an "ugly American explosion" in the country that gave the world Michelangelo, DaVinci and Botticelli.

This spring, we are sending Italy some of the least cultured media/pop culture that the United States has to offer, a show called the Jersey Shore. One of the more notable characters we are sharing is "Snooki." (This young woman was arrested for public intoxication in the stateside version of the reality show she is on - called "The Jersey Shore." I wonder if MTV cares that it is sending her to a country where public intoxication is not well tolerated. Then again, I wonder if the Italian government cares - they apparently are granting her a visa!)

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How Has the Amanda Knox Case Impacted Study Abroad?

With Ms. Knox's appeal scheduled for Wednesday, I again began to think about the implications of her arrest and conviction on study abroad program administration. I recently posed the following question to colleagues in the field: "How many of your institutions (US, non-US) made policy or process changes as a result of the Knox case?"

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