Aggies studying abroad introduce Big Event tradition to Europeans

Learn more about the College of Architecture’s study abroad programs.

In 2014,Texas A&M’s “The Big Event” went worldwide.

Numerous public spaces in Europe received “facelifts” from College of Architecture students in three study abroad venues as a “thank you” to their host communities — mirroring the annual Big Event tradition in Bryan/College Station in which students perform volunteer community-beautifying tasks including cleaning, planting, painting and yardwork.

A total of 122 students in Barcelona, Spain; Bonn, Germany; and Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy muddied their boots, turned earth and wielded hammer, nails and other tools to perform Big Event tasks.

“We are very proud of our College of Architecture students studying abroad this term who have transported the Aggie "Big Event" tradition around the world,” said Elton Abbott, assistant dean for international programs & initiatives. “It’s a great way to show the Aggie spirit to our global partners.”

In Bonn, students joined counterparts from Penn State University and Loyola Marymount University preparing green spaces at Beethoven Haus, a chamber music hall, for its upcoming spring season.

“The students did a fantastic job,” said Malte Boecker, director of Beethoven Haus. “It was a great day for us.”

Joined by former students stationed at a military base in Ramstein who traveled 140 miles for Big Event activities, students also planted a garden in the Haus am Redoutenpark, a Bonn retirement home. 

 “I admire their hard work,” said Detlef Spoetter, the home’s director. “Now our senior citizens can enjoy the newly planted garden.”

Students continued their efforts the next day, running in the Bonn Marathon as a fundraising effort for Marol Academy, an organization that supports educational projects for children in South Sudan.

In Barcelona, students joined Architects Without Borders in the Vallcarca neighborhood’s community garden to plant vegetables and install a new fence. They also repaired a scale model of the neighborhood that is on display in the neightborhood community center.

Students also built a wooden table for a park designed by a member of AWB who is also a member of the Vallcarca neighborhood association.

Study abroad students in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy helped discover their host city’s heritage as they joined a local archaeology group cleaning ceramic fragments dating from 500 B.C. to 200 A.D. The local group is eventually looking to catalogue and reassemble the fragments.

They also began painting a mural for an art room in a middle school that they are hoping to complete before the end of the spring 2014 semester, helped move books in a church library and planted and weeded the Santa Chiara Study Center.

posted April 15, 2014