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Buffalo State's Siena Program: Changing Lives for 50 Years

Posted: July 18, 2011

Lenore Tetkowski carefully lowered the phonograph needle onto a spinning 78 and walked back over to the ironing board. Her three young children were tucked in bed for the night. She had some time to concentrate. “Latte pastorizzato,” came the exotic voice from the album, turning each syllable into music. “Latte pastorizzato,” repeated Lenore, as she glided the iron across a sleeve. “Formaggio,” said the record. “Formaggio,” said Lenore.

The year was 1961, and everything was about to change for the Tetkowski family. In fact, in many ways, everything was about to change for generations of college students. While Lenore was busy learning how to ask for pasteurized milk and cheese in Italian, her husband, Clem, was in Italy, scouting out the perfect location for the State University of New York’s (SUNY) first formal study-abroad program.

And he found that perfect location in the picturesque Tuscan hill town of Siena.

“I think we all want adventure in our lives; we all want to see new places and different things. We want experiences that change our lives,” said Lenore, now 87, as she poured herself a cup of coffee while poring over vintage family photos. “But adventure doesn’t always just happen. You have to make it happen. Clem made it happen.”

Read full story in the summer 2011 issue of 1300 Elmwood.

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