Time keeps ticking here in Rome and I personally feel like it’s going by faster and faster. Although most of my days recently have been consumed with going to classes and then working on midterm projects and studying, I have still managed to get a couple extra events into my week.
Temple Rome organized a wine tasting event for the student body. It was an extremely informative and interesting evening where a wine expert came to the school to talk about many facets of wine. Some topics included were how to properly smell the wine, where and how it’s made, how the wine ages, and how sparkling wine is manufactured. Each student was able to taste samples of three different wines. It was a nice break to a week full of pre-midterm anxieties.
Another opportunity I have been blessed with here was the chance to volunteer at a local Soup Kitchen. My friend Betsy and I signed up through the school and set aside a Friday evening to help serve the hungry. Our evening started with traveling to the center of Rome which is called Termini. The soup kitchen was located about a ten minute walk from there within a gated hostel for the homeless. When we got there we were not sure what we were going to be doing but the Italian volunteers greeted us with open arms, and I could tell they enjoyed our willingness to help. We began by preparing the cafeteria-like room for dinner. Our first task was to fill pitchers of water for each table. After that we had to dry the trays that were coming out of the dish room. After these pre-dinner activities, Betsy and I were then assigned to our duties for the dinner meal. Betsy was sent to the food line where she was responsible for dishing out the different meats while I was asked to stand outside of the entrance and organize the crowd of people coming for dinner. Since this soup kitchen was part of a hostel, the residents of the hostel were able to come in whenever they wanted and go directly in. However, they also accept homeless people from the outside on a first come first serve basis. This is where my job came into play. Each homeless person had to line up outside and must register with the soup kitchen by proving their social status (paperwork like a license). To prevent the people from overcrowding the cafeteria, I had to let 5-8 people through at a time and keep the line flow at a regular pace. I don’t speak or understand much Italian, but I was still able to communicate and talk with some of the poverty stricken people. It was heartbreaking to see some of them with little kids or even all by themselves. However, they were some of the nicest people I have met so far here in Rome. Sometimes all I had to do was make eye contact with someone and I felt like I connected with them on a personal level. As people exited, they would personally thank me and smile which made me feel like my time of volunteering was well worth it.
I am so glad that I made the time in my ever-so-busy schedule to take part in this volunteer experience. It gave me a new insight on life and changed me for the better by enabling me to see a side of Rome I would’ve otherwise overlooked.