Today’s post comes from Texas Christian University student Brooke Barlock, who spent her time in Florence volunteering at a local elementary school.
The primary goal I set for my study abroad experience was to make Florence feel like a home. I didn’t want to be a tourist, looking at the city through the lens of a camera. I wanted to assimilate, participate in Florentine life as if I was a local. Fortunately, ACCENT gave me every opportunity to do just that.
Every week, I volunteered at an Italian elementary school where I guided the 5-year-old students through their daily activities. I observed how students, parents, and teachers interacted in the school setting and was even welcomed into their homes in the evenings to converse over the dinnertime meal. The children did not speak English, so I loved being forced to practice my Italian, and when words failed me, hugs and kisses were the perfect form of communication.
This volunteer opportunity became the heart of my study abroad experience because it truly placed me inside Italian culture. When my semester came to an end, I was glad that the goodbyes were so difficult, because it meant that I had created relationships of value— befriended a community of people I will continue to talk to even after I return to America. Because of this experience, I realized that there is so much goodness that exists in this world, and I’m lucky to have received so much of it from my little kindergarten class.
Thank you, ACCENT, for giving me a home in Italy. This is what the real study abroad experience is all about.
~Brooke Barlock, Texas Christian University, Spring 2017 – ACCENT Florence
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