While some Gilmour grads are hitting the books closer to home, Ken Farona ’11 is spending the semester on the other side of the Atlantic, in Italy.
The John Carroll University junior is studying this fall at the Pontifical Urban University in Vatican City. And he’s still coming down after an exciting summer in which he participated in a monthlong archaeological dig in central Italy.
On the dig, Farona worked with students and faculty from Sapienza University of Rome, uncovering artifacts at the site of the ancient village Peltuinum.
“The experience was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced prior,” Farona says. “Spending time with Italians 24/7 for a month improved my speaking abilities and confidence with the language. I was constantly working in the field, which is tough but rewarding.”
The group’s most significant discovery came on the last day of the dig in an area Farona was working on. “We found an arch in part of the wall,” Farona says. “That arch is where water would pass and flow through the rooms of the medieval fortress.”
But Farona made another important discovery on the dig – his own talent for drawing. That’s because part of his responsibilities involved drawing sketches of artifacts he unearthed, and Farona found he’s a talented illustrator. “I was surprised at how I picked up drawing so well,” he says. “I had never been good at drawing before, but this time the drawing style was more technical and easier for me to get the hang of.”
Farona’s illustrations are now part of the archaeological catalog at Peltuinum. The catalog includes drawings of all the fragments found on the site and is used to record all the artifacts collected there.
The dig taught Farona “a lot about myself and about my abilities,” he says. “I learned a lot about archaeology and how complex the process of an excavation really is.”
Farona went to John Carroll intending to major in Spanish and history, two interests he developed at Gilmour. But his passion for culture soon inspired him to double major in sociology and Italian instead.
After graduating from John Carroll in 2015, Farona plans to pursue a graduate degree in cultural anthropology and become a professor. In the meantime, he’ll enjoy his semester in Rome, perfect his Italian as much as possible and use his immersion in a foreign culture to enrich himself.
“I hope hearing my story encourages current GA students to chase after what they’re passionate about and make things happen, even when you don’t know how it will all work out in the end,” Farona says. “Making connections can get you to places you’ve never dreamed of going. Being open to change and new experiences is the best way to grow.”