Monday, December 24, 2012

All God's Children: Reflections


It's been a while since I posted anything. I have been busy enjoying being back in the good 'ol U.S. of A! I have loved every bit of being in 'Merica! Paying in dollars, eating In'n'Out, speaking English and using my blow dryer (random, but seriously it's the little things). Since I've been home I have had a lot of time to reflect on this past semester. Here is my final reflection from this semester...

Initially when I thought of my semester abroad I envisioned the timeless art, the picturesque landscapes, the exotic foods and the historic churches. When I continued to reflect on this semester abroad I realized that the things that impacted me the most were the everyday people I met. From my interactions with strangers, acquaintances and new friends, I became aware of the beauty and charity of people of every culture. Here are a few of the people I met that have left a lasting impression on me.

This semester I had a strong desire to meet local Italians and get a feel for what life was like in their shoes. God knew this desire and answered it in the form of Chiara Braccini. To be honest, when I first met Chiara I was intimidated. To my fascinated eyes I thought that all Italians were super cool, both in style and in attitude, and weren’t too impressed with American students. I thought for sure she would be the same. Instead I found that she was super cool as I expected, but also very kind and friendly. Her beautiful smile put me at ease and her friendly demeanor made me realize that we were just two college-age students from different countries who enjoyed each other’s company. During my time in Italy she introduced me to her friends from the university and grade school. She wanted me to be able to meet other Italians and to practice my Italian. Chiara’s hospitable and light-hearted attitude put everyone at ease and it made for an enjoyable evening in the city. Chiara was the first one to show me true Italian kindness and hospitality from someone my own age.
Chiara and I with 2 of her friends in front of Piazza Pitti
A group of people that left an impression on me were the staff at Villa Morghen.  Sharing everyday life with them taught me a lot, and I have so many great memories from my time in the Villa. In particular, Marina, the housekeeper, showed me so much love. The language gap was very apparent in our interactions, but she loved me so well in spite of it.  She would often call me “Tesoro,” a familiar term of endearment in Italian, and always greeted me when I came for meals.  I truly learned to appreciate our silent conversations and unspoken appreciation for one another. 

Marina was not the only one in the Villa that left an impression on me. Angelus and Giovanni will always have a special place in my heart as the first two people that welcomed me into the Villa on September 10th. Giovanni, in all his seriousness and intimidating persona, showed his love to me through humble service. I will always be grateful for his attempt at locating my pajamas that disappeared with the linens. After two weeks of inquiring into the whereabouts of my pajamas, he finally told me that my “pajamas are lost forever.” I couldn’t be mad or sad because I saw how much of a servant’s heart he had and how he wanted to help in such a trivial matter of my life. Angelus, in all her joy and spunkiness, showed me love and kindness through her thoughtfulness and curiosity. I loved this ease of sharing that we had. Not only did she serve through her words, but she also served through her actions. She was always the first to know if a student was ill and would suggest some remedy or comfort food. It was so obvious that she cared so much for all of us students by her joy and desire to serve.They showed me how to love through sharing life and serving others in the big and little things.

Another couple I met in Italy left me with so much joy, I can't help but to share it! While in line for confession at Our Lady of the Angels in Assisi I met an adorable Irish couple. The husband offered me a holy hard with a prayer from a saint to make a good confession. As I was entering the confessional he said to me, “I’ll pray for you to make a good confession, and you can pray for me.” This man’s faith in the communion of saints and in the sacraments was so beautiful. Even in this 5 minute encounter, this couple left a lasting impression on me.

Some of the people that impacted me I didn't get the pleasure of meeting, but I was given the gift of seeing them live their lives well.  A few examples come to mind. To read about these beautiful people check out my blog on Italian Hearts

So many people influenced my time abroad and impacted me forever. Overall I witnessed God’s love through the many different people that I met, experienced the love and kindness of many different cultures and learned to appreciate the universality of charity. For some reason, God put these people in my life to teach me something. Whether it was how to receive love differently, not to judge based on appearance, or to just appreciate the little things in life, all of these people were placed in my life for the exact purpose that they accomplished. 

 From this experience I continued to learn to see Christ in every person that I meet, no matter their outward appearance. These experiences have convicted me to avoid judgment and accept differences. With or without Faith, they showed me Christ through their goodness.  From this experience I have a growing desire to boldly invest in others lives and show interest in their experiences. From these encounters I have developed an understanding of how not to judge others, searching for the good in everyone. Whatever path that I embark on after college I hope to take these lessons with me to build up the body of Christ.

God bless you and your family during this Christmas and Holiday season. I hope that you have enjoyed following my journey through Italy and beyond this semester! It has been such a pleasure to share this part of  my journey with you. I'm excited to share the rest with you all! 

Love and Prayers,

Italy To Do List:


October 2012:

Things I want to do before this semester is over:

  • Go to the Mexican food restaurant, Tijuana. 
  • Go to l'apertivo in Florence. (Happy hour)
  • Ride a bike around Florence. 
  • Day trip to Lucca, bike around wall.
  • Go out with Chiara and Italian friends
  • Run down the Arno river (walking down the Arno was good enough)
  • Sit and read a book in Piazzale Michelangelo (Didn't read a book, but I had a good conversation with Annie and Maddie!)

  • Hike to Fiesole (Didn't get to visit, but I took the bus!)
  • Go to Palazzo Pitti (didn't go inside the museum, but got to peak into the courtyard thanks to Chiara)
  • Buy wine, bread and cheese and have a picnic in a park. (Enjoyed a sack lunch in the park with Becca in Fiesole)
  • Go to La Fiorentina Soccer match. 
  • Have a girl's night with Jennifer
  • Order the "Semester Panini" at Desiderio's Cafe
  • Visit the Garcia's in Rapallo (Won't make it to Rapallo, but visited Enrica in Milan instead!)
  • Go wine tasting
Wow! This semester went by so fast! I can't believe all the amazing things I was able to do. I feel so blessed to have had all of those experiences with such great people. Even though I didn't get to do everything that I had on my "To Do List" I still had such a full, wonderful time in Italy. I only wish I had made my "To Do List" at the beginning of the semester (Take note future study-abroaders). The rest of the things I will have to save for my next trip to Europe =]