Internship in Italy – Black History Month Florence (BHMF)
In spring 2020, I studied with RIT affiliate, Santa Reparata International School of Art (SRISA), in Florence, Italy. While in Florence I worked as a social media intern for Black History Month Florence (BHMF). I completed 2 months in person and the rest online due to COVID-19.
Working with the BHMF team is part of what made studying abroad in Italy such a fulfilling experience. Looking back, I’m amazed at all I accomplished and experienced during my 2 months in Florence. I never would have interacted with such incredible artists and organizations or seen such diverse aspects of Italian culture had it not been for this internship.
My main role was to create content for the BHMF Instagram and Facebook pages in order to spread awareness of the organization and bring an audience to the events. Just because the events occur mainly in February does not mean that BHMF is idle the rest of the year. The YGBI Residency, Uffizi gallery collaboration (On Being Present), The Recovery Plan, and the Black Archive Alliance are ongoing projects that can be showcased throughout the year.
During the month of February, I aided artists and curators with the design and installation of multiple gallery shows across the city of Florence. I spent a lot of time setting up different types of artwork and problem solving the issues that would come up. For a show in Le Murate, I helped set up thousands of tiny ceramic heads for one installation which took hours. I also helped an artist create the massive shape for a reflecting pool in the middle of his gallery space (which later leaked 5 minutes prior to the show opening).
During the opening event I provided support to the artists and acted as a BHMF representative. I attended numerous events throughout February to document the breadth of work that BHMF engages in and supports. Events included gallery openings, lectures, book readings, live music and performance, tours, Q & A’s, discussions and more. Typically my focus was on photography, but I occasionally helped with live streams and video recordings.
After Black History Month I created social media pushes and organized documentation for the 50+ events we had. We collaborated with the Uffizi Galleries and Le Murate in Florence. For the Uffizi Gallery ‘On Being Present’ exhibition I created a social media content highlighting some of the Renaissance works featured in the Uffizi Galleries in Florence and also spotlighted the researchers who worked on the project.
For the YGBI Residency, I created a series of posts highlighting the five young, black Italian artists who were part of the YGBI Residency. This included profile shots, short videos, and photos from the experience. I was really proud of translating and transcribing the videos so that both our English and Italian speaking audience could fully appreciate the work.
My affiliate study abroad program, Santa Reparata International School of Art (SRISA), found this internship opportunity for me. A big perk of applying to SRISA meant that they would help me find an internship in Florence. They could not find me an internship specifically for UI/UX design but they connected me with a professor at the school, Justin Randolph Thompson, who needed social media interns to help with BHMF. What really interested me about the opportunity was that I would be working at an intersection of race, art, and culture. I am a lifelong advocate of diversity and inclusion, particularly for LGBT issues. It was incredible that I could have an internship with BHMF and aid them with their mission because it aligns with my own work and values.
Because of COVID, I had to return home from Italy early. I was given the option to not continue the internship if I didn’t want to, or I could also choose a specific area of focus and continue to work in that area. The decision to continue the internship remotely was an easy decision. I had access to all the social media and google accounts so I could still do the work regardless of where in the world I was. It was just a little tricky because I had to plan posts and communicate with people in a different time zone.
I would absolutely recommend to other students to complete an internship while studying abroad! I took four classes in addition to the internship and it was very manageable. The internship really was the highlight of my time abroad. I would not have traveled around Florence and gotten to know the city as well as I did if not for my work with BHMF. I met a diverse group of Italians, and that gave me a broader understanding of the diversity within Italian culture.
Nik Delgado is a New Media Design major in the College of Art & Design and studied abroad at SRISA (Santa Reparata International School of Art) in spring 2020.