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Casa Maderni

A Living-Learning Community at the Steger Center for International Scholarship

Casa Maderni
Steger Center Villa

What is the Casa Maderni?

The Casa Maderni living-learning community (LLC) is designed to bring together students from a variety of programs studying abroad at the Steger Center for International Scholarship. An interdisciplinary community that provides a home to students of diverse backgrounds from all academic years at Virginia Tech, the Casa Maderni brings together students, faculty, and professional staff who are dedicated to making the most of their study abroad experience through community-engaged learning, a culture of well-being, and the development of intercultural competencies. The Casa Maderni strives to provide a home away from home, to shape and enhance the student experience abroad by offering opportunities to participate broadly in the life of Riva San Vitale and Ticino. Through partnerships between academic programs and student affairs, students will be educated, encouraged, and empowered to make the most of their semester abroad in Switzerland and in Europe.

Students Monte Generoso

Guiding Principles

In the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), the Steger Center living-learning community fosters engaged learning that serves the broader community for students across disciplines. To this end, we encourage students and faculty alike to learn Italian and become involved in activities here in Riva San Vitale and in Ticino. We work to embody the best of Virginia Tech as we live and learn alongside our local and university partners in the region and in our broader European context. We value inclusion and equity, and we share an unwavering belief in the need to develop and support a diverse community here in Riva San Vitale. We promote ideals and practices that stimulate individual and social transformation through the experience of studying away; to this end, we promote the shared values of respect, civic responsibility, and sustainability in all that we do.

The Student Experience

The student experience at the Casa Maderni is designed to bring together students from a variety of majors and backgrounds around their shared community in Italian-speaking Switzerland. Regular programming will include shared meals; guest speakers on shared topics of interest across the disciplines; local and regional activities, including community service, that connect VT students to students from Ticino, Switzerland, and the rest of Europe. The Casa Maderni is committed to providing students with regular travel and cultural opportunities that connect them to students from other programs and create a greater appreciation for the local community and region.

The Casa Maderni runs on a different rhythm than other LLCs at Virginia Tech: each semester begins with a pre-departure orientation for students and faculty, followed by the fall or spring semester in Switzerland, and then concludes with a re-entry program to help students “unpack” their study abroad experience. As part of the pre-departure orientation, students will have an introduction to Italian, to living in Switzerland, and living at the Steger Center. The semester includes the programming described above, whereas the reentry piece will give students the tools to make sense of their time abroad and inform their future studies and work with that experience. As part of the reentry work, students will be asked to assume leadership positions in helping shape future members of the Casa Maderni. They will also have the opportunity to connect with related LLCs on campus, including Mozaiko.

Gardens at Casa Maderni


This program will offer a 1-credit course each semester beginning in fall 2024. The course focuses on personal development, academic skills, and how to apply and develop these during the study away experience. The course will be tailored to incorporate the focus of this community while still addressing the need to consider the multidisciplinary nature of the participants. All participating students will be required to take this course.

Student Learning Outcomes

As a result of being engaged in the Casa Maderni, students will:

  • Cultivate their understanding of intercultural competencies
  • Develop strategies for practicing resiliency and self-reliance in a new environment
  • Have access to student leadership opportunities
  • Live out Ut Prosim by serving others in the community both within and outside of the Steger Center
  • Engage with faculty, staff, and other students to understand the importance of nurturing meaningful relationships
  • Enhance their Italian language skills
  • Reflect upon their study away experience, during and after their semester in Switzerland.

Ryan Hopkins, Assistant Director for Student Life oversees the day-to-day running of the Casa Maderni. He is ably supported by designated graduate fellows at the Steger Center, by the executive director, and by the faculty in residence. For more information about the Steger Center for International Scholarship staff, please see the Steger Center web site.

Students live in the Steger Center or in nearby apartments in Riva San Vitale.

Five flexible classroom spaces are housed at the Steger Center itself, along with four distinct study spaces. The dining hall distinguishes the Steger Center from other study abroad centers: all students take their meals at the Steger Center Sunday through Friday and it provides a wonderful place for consistent, community interaction.

Interested in studying in Casa Maderni at the Steger Center? Visit the Steger Center Website.