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Yunhao Qiao, '13 studies piano in Florence, Italy

Traveling from Shanghai, China to studying on our Hillside was only the beginning of world travels for one South Kent School student. Yunhao Qiao, ’13 made his way to the historic cultural center of Florence, Italy during his summer vacation as part of an ‘ArtsAbroad’ program.

During his two-week stay, Qiao had the opportunity to study music with local professionals, take introductory Italian language classes and get a glimpse into the world-famous art galleries, cathedrals and museums.

“It was exciting to send our first student to one of ArtsAbroad’s programs and establish a relationship with them that can continue in the future,” said Marcus Cooper, director of the music department. “Looking forward, I hope that students take advantage of more of their programs ranging from stays in Florence, Italy to study Music, Arts, or Theatre to Band and Orchestra Camp in the Czech Republic,” he added.

ArtsAbroad is an organization based near Washington, D.C. that provides study abroad summer and semester programs to individual high school or college students in the arts. Students from around the world in fields such as music, dance, visual arts, design, theater, film, and writing are offered the opportunity to improve their artistic abilities, tour treasured historical sites for the arts, and attend world-class performances and exhibits.

From Yunhao Qiao ‘13:
On the First day, I arrived at the Florence airport at about 11:00 pm. The whole city was silent but active and energetic at the same time. There were bands playing their instruments like guitar, violin, or accordion everywhere, but none of them sounded noisy. I was impressed by this and thought Florence as the origin city of art and music. Along with other students, I was taken to the apartment with our supervisor by taxi. Florence is a really small city, for it only took me about fifteen minutes to get to the apartment from the airport. The buildings here remained old in style of eighteenth-century, established by different kinds of rocks and stones. The streets, as well as the buildings, are not only for modern transportation but also for the carriages passing back and forth. It is strange but interesting that they still use horses as transportation, one of the reasons why Florence is different than other cities.

The group introduced themselves to each other and spent a couple of days visiting the nearby museums and churches. Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore was just adjacent to our apartment so we spent most of our time there. It is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen. We also went to visit the statue of David, the bridges, and the piazzas. I could feel the strength and beauty from the sculptures that early Italian artists tried to express. The journey was wonderful!

I was the first South Kent School student to attend the ArtsAbroad Program. I had a fabulous experience as a musician, but also enjoyed living and working within a small community in a foreign country. I highly recommend this program to others; it was really beneficial.

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