Kathy McCabe (SFS’95) looks back at her time at Georgetown and how that appreciation for experiencing another culture led to her current work running her award-winning travel newsletter and PBS travel series “Dream of Italy.”
Why did you decide to come to SFS?
I’ve been interested in international relations since the age of 10 when my parents took me on my first trip abroad, to London. Later, I attended Dr. Arend’s weeklong international relations program for high school student and my love for Georgetown was solidified. I had an interest in journalism from a young age also and suspected that I would probably use my degree from SFS to pursue a career in journalism, which is what ended up happening.
Did you have any mentors or advisors at SFS that made a big impact on you?
I enjoyed so many of my professors and classes at SFS. I loved Map of the Modern World with Dean Pirtle. My focus is now Italy and I first really studied the Italian government in Modern Foreign Governments. My major was European Studies and at that time, my love was France, and I took several French history and culture classes that I truly enjoyed. Another standout was a class on the Holocaust with the director of the then new Holocaust Museum in DC.
Who are your heroes in real life?
Well, one of them is Jimmy Carter. I admire so much the humanitarian work that he has done post-presidency. I’ve always wanted to see him speak or meet him and I never have. I now live in Denver and I’m taking a special trip up to Aspen at the end of June to see him and his wife speak at the Aspen Institute.
What is your favorite memory of your time at SFS?
It is hard to isolate just one. I still feel like some of the smartest people I have ever met were some of my fellow SFS students and some of my best memories are the time I spent with them in class and outside of class. I knew many of them through the International Relations Club and in my senior year I helped to run NAIMUN, the model United Nations conference for high school students.
Another standout memory is the summer between my junior and senior years when I interned at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. It was such a great opportunity to experience what I was studying in the real world.
Describe your current role and what makes you most proud about that.
I’m the founder of an award-winning travel newsletter called Dream of Italy and now the host and executive producer of a new PBS travel series of the same name. I fell in love with Italy the month after I graduated from Georgetown when my mother and I traveled to Italy and visited her ancestral village.
While I worked in broadcast and online journalism, I returned to Italy each year for my vacation and realized that there were many other people who loved Italy like I do which led me to found the newsletter in 2002. I’m most proud that I am truly following my passion in life and sharing it with others.
How did SFS prepare you for your current role/career?
It taught me the appreciation for truly experiencing another culture and to always look deeper at a people and a country. I think I’ve translated that into my work on the newsletter and the television series. I always strive to share the most interesting and authentic experiences Italy has to offer.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Running my company Dream of Italy (http://www.dreamofitaly.com) for almost 13 years and still loving it as much as I did at the beginning.
Have you travelled extensively? For work or for pleasure? What is your favorite place?
I’ve traveled a great deal in Europe. Several years after I graduated from Georgetown, I worked for a television company in London for a year. Since my work schedule was only five days out of every two weeks, I traveled around the United Kingdom and Europe as much as I could. While at Georgetown I spent two summers living in France. With my work on Italy, I have now visited the country more than 35 times and it is obviously still my favorite place.
What advice do you have for current SFS students?
Take advantage of everything that SFS and Georgetown have to offer. Take that extra class (my greatest academic regret is not taking an introduction to Italian my senior year as I had considered doing), go to an interesting lecture, seek out that professor who might intimidate you a little bit. Students at SFS are definitely self-starters but I’m not sure any of us realize when we are there how unique this time in our lives is – so enjoy it!