Italian medical students enjoy an Erie summer at Gannon University

Summertime is typically quiet for college campuses, but if you happened to step foot on A.J.’s Way this past July and August, you may have come across a horde of navy scrub-adorned Italian medical students.
This summer, Gannon University partnered with Chartered Professors, LLC for the first time to host the Mazzotti Conference, an opportunity for medical students from multiple regions of Italy to visit America and work with cadaver-based anatomy.
Usually hosted in Buffalo, N.Y., Gannon staff and faculty collaborated with those from the conference to host an educational, yet enriching program.
The conference hosted groups of around 60 medical students in two separate sessions from July 14 to Aug. 6.
Students spent close to 10 hours in the lab every day and their evenings exploring the surrounding Erie area.
Gross anatomy teaching assistants were hired to assist in the lab, while visiting professors taught the students anatomical structures.
The experience itself was one of true education, but the most rewarding part was the relationships formed.
The medical students, teaching assistants and visiting professors from Buffalo came together to work as a team.
Hours spent in the lab and invites to the activities fostered friendships that reached far beyond the language barriers.
As students from Gannon, the teaching assistants personally spent their free time as tour guides, showing both the students and visiting professors different restaurants, local events and the Gannon campus.
Hannah Kaltenbaugh, senior physician assistant student and teaching assistant, noted the true joy she had for showing them a place she calls home.
“I really enjoyed just spending time with them and getting to show them Erie and Gannon,” she said.
Dr. Gary Styn Jr., a visiting professor from Daemen College, was very fond of his experience with the program after having been a part of many medical trips himself throughout the years.
“The overwhelming theme of all these endeavors is the desire to personally grow, so that one’s gifts and talents can be given for the benefit of another,” he said. “Very powerful, and humbling stuff.”
And in fact, the power of the connections formed was very humbling.
As all members of this team worked to learn, they found they were discovering much more about themselves along the way.
One student from Italy, Yusuf Ahmed, 25, mentioned that the experience came full-circle by allowing him to learn medicine while also finding his place in the U.S.
“My favorite memory is when I realized that studying medicine is not only [in] books, but practicing your knowledge with other people that follow [the] same road,” he said. You ask me what the biggest thing I took away is, but if I can be honest with you, America took a piece of my heart and I cannot take away more than pure happiness.”
It has been a few weeks since Gannon said goodbye to its wonderful Italian friends, but the experiences remain within the hearts of the teaching assistants and professors.
As Styn puts it, they hope the conference “inspired them to leave the experience with confidence in their ability to use their knowledge to serve humanity and make the world a brighter place.”
For those three weeks, Erie was a little bit brighter and a tad more bellissimo.


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