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UW Student Athletes Encounter Ancient and Contemporary Rome

Submitted by Deborah E Kamen on September 6, 2022 - 12:52pm
student athletes

by James J. Clauss

In June of this year (2022), I had the opportunity to teach a group of student athletes in Rome, initiated by UW Student Athletics and supported by International Programs and Exchanges and the UW Rome Center. There were 6 football players (one whose first name is Rome), 5 female athletes (2 soccer players, 2 gymnasts, 1 softball player) and 1 non-student athlete, 12 in all. This is the first time I taught a group of mixed athletes either here or abroad. In the past, I worked with students on the same team. What united this diverse group once we arrived was a fascination for the Eternal City and a genuine curiosity that may have surprised some of them.

Rome captivates all who visit and student athletes are no exception. Apart from being a completely delightful group of individuals to work and spend time with, this class asked a host of questions about archeology, topography, ancient and modern Italian culture, among many other points of interest. I could hardly complete a sentence without someone asking for more information. They were hungry for more than pizza and gelato. From my experience, if we provide our students with inherently interesting and stimulating topics for learning in an open and supportive environment, whether in Seattle or Rome, they will become inquisitive, a first step toward academic success and a life of learning. Case in point: the students featured in the accompanying photo.

On November 17, Prof. Clauss gave a Zoom talk, “The Myth of the Eternal Return to the Eternal City,” about his experiences teaching in Rome the past 30 years. As described by the Office of Global Affairs, “From teaching topography and multiculturalism to discovering a surprising model for engaging with student athletes in Rome, Jim shares his journey of discovery and transformation in the Eternal City.” The talk, which features a conversation between Jim and Lauren Easterling, Associate Director of UW Study Abroad, as well as testimonials by student athletes who studied with Jim this past June, can be viewed here.

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