Universities unite!

Prato Campus Week

Rose Mackworth-Young
April 25, 2013

From May 4 to 11, Prato will be filled with beats, food and even group sporting events, all part of a joint program of Prato’s three universities, promoting interaction not only among themselves, but also with universities in nearby Florence. With Prato only a 20-minute train ride away from Florence, Campus Week is a great opportunity for Florentine and study-abroad students alike to get to know a relatively tourist-free Tuscan town and those who study there—and have a ton of free fun in the process.


With the theme of Weaving Connections, Prato Campus Week is about building new relationships and discovering new places and people. At the heart of all the activities is inspiring ‘creativity and intercultural connections amongst the growing student presence in Prato. It also gives visibility to what could be seen as a new phenomenon or indeed profile for a city that has traditionally been characterised by its textile industry,’ says Dr. Cecilia Hewlett, director of Monash University’s Prato centre. The public is welcome to attend, including students from Florence and the surrounding areas.


The activities will centre on Prato’s three universities: Monash (an international centre of Monash University, in Melbourne, Australia), New Haven (Connecticut, USA) and PIN (Polo Universitario Città in Prato, Italy, see).


If you can make only one day of the festival, get to Prato for the afternoon and evening of Friday, May 10. All free, the events start at 2:30pm in piazza dell’Università, which will turn into a sports field for the afternoon, with ultimate Frisbee, beach volleyball and a Wii contest. It’s a chance for students from all universities and members of the public to get to know each other, get some exercise and, above all, have a good time together. Tired out? Relax with a classical music concert by students from the University of New Haven in piazza del Comune (5pm). Energy restored? Now it’s time to try out your language skills at the Speedy Conversation Exchange at Monash University (via Pugliesi 26, 6pm). A special edition of a weekly event at Monash, this speed-dating formatted language mixer gives Italians and English speakers a chance to make friends, share experiences and firm up their language abilities. After all this physical and mental exercise, you’ll be in for a well-earned repast: Monash is hosting an Aussie-inspired barbeque in the picturesque courtyards of Palazzo Vai. All these events are free, but pre-registration is requested at www.monash.it/en/openday or www.pratocampusweek.it.


Throughout the day, in a first for the city of Prato, the campuses of all three of Prato’s universities will be open to the public, with campus tours and information on the programmes and activities of each. For Italians who want to gauge their level of English, Monash is also offering free English tests during the day, along with exhibits of photos by Australian artists and a new animated film on Australian indigenous culture.


Another highlight of Campus Week is the FRU Festival of University Radio (May 8–10), bringing together college radio presenters from across Italy. An annual event, it has toured Italian cities, including Padua and Salerno, and this year it comes to Prato especially for Campus Week. The festival will award two prizes, Best Voice and Best Programme, and will hold a competition for emerging artists and bands. (The bands uploaded their tracks onto http://tinyurl.com/ctl4koy, where you can still listen to them online, even though public voting ended on April 19). The five winners will perform live at the FRU Final on May 8. The festival will also include the chance to meet Fabrizio Tamburini, professor in astrophysics at the University of Padua, whose discoveries in optical vortices may change the way radio is transmitted. (12:45pm, May 10).


For music fans there is plenty more on offer during Campus Week, including free evening concerts in piazza dell’Università from May 8 to 11. On May 4 (10.30pm, piazza dell’Università), to kick off the musical events, is Dress to Impress, a DJ set with Philippe Balugani, for which participants are asked to dress ‘bizarrely!’


The 626 Prato Campus Run, an annual event organised by the charity Give Me a Smile, ties in with Campus Week this year, so stretch out your muscles and head out around the historical city. You can register in teams or individually, and choose between two distances, 4.5km or 9km. While this is a noncompetitive fun run, prizes will be awarded to both the high school student and the university student (or team) that come in first. Volunteers are still needed to assist on the race day: it’s a great opportunity to meet Italians and practise your conversation skills at the same time (sign up at the Campus Week website; see box). The race starts at 10am in piazza dell’Università, but registration (including bib collection) is at 9am in piazza Duomo. Pre-register to get a free T-shirt at http://tinyurl.com/bu73zuc.


Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to participate actively and take part in dozens of fun activities—all for free! To find out more about the universities of Monash and New Haven in Prato, see page 18, and for PIN see page 20.

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