The U.S. Department of State has joined forces with the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) in a public-private partnership to bring an American response to the people of Abruzzo, Italy, after the devastation caused by the April 6, 2009 earthquake. The focus of this partnership is to direct aid to L’Aquila University to restore its role as an important academic, social, and economic engine for the Abruzzo region. Initial projects include:
Adopt-a-Scholar: NIAF is working with several U.S. universities to provide scholarships for up to 200 students from the University of L’Aquila who were displaced by the earthquake to enable them to continue their academic studies in the United States starting fall semester 2009 for up to a year. The scholarships will cover tuition, international travel, room and board, as well as textbooks and supplies.
Building Earthquake-Resistant Modular Multipurpose Centers: The destruction of nearly all the buildings of the University of L’Aquila has created an immediate need for dormitories and other buildings. Supported by NIAF, U.S. technology will be used to build in summer 2009 inherently-flexible, modular multipurpose centers.
Exchanges to the United States: Four local government and University of L’Aquila leaders will travel to the United States under a Department of State exchange program to visit academic institutions experienced in crisis response. Another State Department-sponsored exchange will bring L’Aquila University department heads and officials to New Orleans and other U.S. cities to examine how American universities have coped with rebuilding after a natural disaster. Both sets of visitors should travel in September 2009.
Exchange to Italy: The U.S.-Italy Fulbright Program will support a Senior Fulbright Specialist in a field identified by the University of L’Aquila to work there with University faculty on a collaborative project, as well as to develop ties with U.S. institutions. This specialist will be placed in L’Aquila for six weeks during the 2009-10 academic year.
Preserving Archives: The State Department will bring an expert archivist from the United States in the fall of 2009 or the winter of 2010 to perform an in-depth assessment of information resources in L’Aquila and to evaluate the needs of various libraries in L’Aquila, including digitalization of records.
Donation of Information Resources: The State Department will donate in the fall of 2009 and the winter of 2010 information and reference materials to assist L’Aquila’s libraries. Donations will include general U.S. reference collections, DVDs, and audio-visual equipment.
Summer Activities for Youth: The State Department will support projects this summer by civil society groups in Abruzzo to engage youngsters in the 160 tent camps with recreational activities such as film nights, sports, games, and music.