Tag Archives: mud angels

A Brief History of FSU’s International Programs

Florida State University’s international programs celebrate 60+ years of connecting students interested in new cultural experiences and a brand new learning environment. Within the program today, students can choose from more than 20 locations, ranging from Panama to China and everywhere in between. Those who are interested in studying abroad, are offered a flexible schedule, allowing them to choose any semester that best suits them so they do not have miss out on the opportunity due to timing. Within Heritage & University Archives, we house the original documents creating the organization, includes the creation and original operation of the international programs.

italy florence brochure
Florence brochure, 1966

On August 1, 1966, a group of 120 students from Florida State University traveled to Florence to embark on their cultural adventure for a total of eight months. On November 4, 1966, the Arno River, located in Florence, reached a frightening elevation and eventually surpassed the embankment. This flooded the city, causing damages and causalities and causing the journey for the Florida State students to take a turn for the worst. Florence was covered in mud. Relief efforts by volunteers, known as “mud angels,” were underway to help the residents of Florence. Among these mud angels were the Florida State students, helping preserve invaluable artifacts and manuscripts. Despite relief efforts, Florida State students and faculty were eventually relocated to Rome for the health risks became overwhelming.

car destroyed florence
Car destroyed by Arno River Flood, Florence 1966

Their efforts to aid the city of Florence were recognized by both the cities of Rome and Florence and were even thanked by Pope Paul VI. Currently, Heritage & University Archives is hosting an exhibit about the students who went to Florence in 1966 and became part of the relief effort. The exhibit is located in the Mary Lou Norwood Reading Room, open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m and available to the general public.

For more information on the Arno River Flood of 1966 and the students who participated in the relief efforts of Florence, please click here.