Student Photographer Returns to Italy for Internship

Published on: April 21, 2010

The experience of a lifetime has led to an internship of a lifetime for Jake Mitchell, a former Lone Star College-CyFair Study Abroad student, who is returning to Italy as a student liaison/artist in residence.

Last summer, Mitchell was earning college credit while immersed in the day-to-day life in Italy. Serving as classrooms for Mitchell’s Western Civilization and World Geography classes were Italian cities, like Castallammare de Stabia, Pompeii, Sant’ Agata de’ Goti and Frascati, as well as sites in Rome, such as the Vatican, the Forum and the Coliseum.

A photo/art exhibition/auction held back on the Barker Cypress campus featured photos and art pieces that represented students’ summer study abroad experiences, journeys and explorations. Mitchell’s photo of four Italy sites reflected in sunglasses, not only won the Bosque Gallery exhibition’s Best in Show, but helped raise more than $1,000 for the LSC-CyFair Study Abroad Scholarship fund.

“Photography’s always been a hobby,” said Mitchell, whose career goal is to teach high school or college photography, though he admitted being featured in National Geographic would be cool, too. “With a photograph you have a direct reflection of a moment in someone’s life or reflection of life as it happens. That’s what I aim to capture.”

This summer, Mitchell returns to Italy to “capture life through an American’s eyes” as part of an internship at the Vesuvian International Institute (a study and research center of the Restoring Ancient Stabiae Foundation) in Castallammare de Stabia. There’s discussion of hosting an open house at the institute to showcase his work and possibly to be used as part of a brochure for American students/travelers. This would help Mitchell with his portfolio and give the institute more publicity as perhaps a destination place for visitors.

In addition, Mitchell will be trading history and geography lessons and homework for an internship. Duties will include helping answering questions, orienting faculty, students and visitors to the facility, showing students around town and how to access public transportation as well as perhaps organizing weekend hiking trips and activities.

During his time in Italy as a Study Abroad student, Mitchell said he thought it would be sort of like vacationing but with classes. However, he said roots were laid in the country through conversations with people like Audrey Fastuca (internship coordinator) and time spent exploring Italy with other students, particularly Travis Newhouse, who will also return to intern with Mitchell.

“I didn’t expect to get the meaning I got out of the experience,” said Mitchell. “It’s opened a lot of doors like going back and having a place to stay and use as a base to travel elsewhere. Study Abroad opened my eyes to a different type of travel rather than just like tourists. It was getting involved in people’s lives.”

Mitchell has several stories about being welcomed into people’s lives with the most memorable being the two visits with Giovanni De Rosa in Sant’ Agata de’ Goti. The first time he gave the students horseshoes and the second time he gave Mitchell a personal poem, which “he had to have picked it out on purpose. It was about traveling when he was about our age.” In addition to hopes of reconnecting with such people, Mitchell would like to revisit Naples and maybe fly to nearby cities for further exploration.

“This time around I’m trying not to make any expectations, just sort of have an open mind and be ready for anything,” said Mitchell, whose flight is booked and bags are almost packed. “It will be really interesting and I’m really looking forward to it.”

For information on future Study Abroad opportunities at LSC-CyFair or throughout the Lone Star College System, go to LoneStar.edu/study-abroad.


About Vesuvian International Institute
The Vesuvian International Institute is a study and research center of The Restoring Ancient Stabiae (RAS) Foundation. The RAS Foundation introduces an international study institute of art, archaeology, history, architecture and culture in the heart of the Vesuvian region, the Bay of Naples and Southern Italy, located in Castellammare di Stabia. The Institute also opens its doors as a residential facility to host visitor groups, artists and travelers to the site. For more information, go to www.vesuvianinstitute.org.