This semester has been filled with making choices and dealing with changes. Being in a different continent for months allows you to change your perspective and way of life in ways you don’t even know. It has been an eye opening experience in so many ways especially my view of refugees and their experience in a new place.
For our last excursion in the Envoy program, we visited JNRC – Joel Nafuma Refugee Center – and saw and learned how refugees have to adjust to living in a new country and what they have to go through. One special ting we learned was that this center acted as a meeting place for everyone to experience each other’s company and have the opportunity to make changes in their future. They have the opportunity to build skills such as sewing or computer skills as well as build a resume for finding work. They provide clothing and toiletries for them as well. Overall it is a great community that helps provide a safe space for refugees who are still finding their footing.
One of the refugees we met, – he is not named here – spoke about his experience coming to Italy from Iran and how he was treated being a refugee here. The things he experienced through his journey are unexplainable and were so difficult to hear about, let alone for him to experience as a young man or anyone. The journey that refugees have to take to reach somewhere safe is extremely treacherous and dangerous, but they know that if they can reach somewhere safer, then they will be hopefully be able to succeed.
When the refugee we met spoke about his experience when he arrived in Italy, it really opened my eyes to the realities of the homeless population. I always knew that the homeless population were not viewed as normal citizens, but when he mentioned that he got accosted and assaulted by the police for being homeless, as well as parents pulling their children away from him, it really changed my view of the homeless.
People who no longer or do not have a home, regardless of the circumstances, are treated horribly when they have no control over their situation at the present moment. It was amazing to see how the man we spoke to changed through being able to have access to just a few resources at JNRC. Just a little help does so much for this population because otherwise they are on their own trying to make it when the rest of the world is against them. They endure so much just to be accosted somewhere they thought could offer them more. JNRC offers so much support to refugees and people who have no other opportunities.
I think it was important for me to see the perspective of a refugee and what they have to endure because I have never really seen or heard that view. I have been somewhat sheltered from that side of the population because of the community I grew up in, so I never really knew the realities of what the homeless or refugees have to endure.
I’m glad I got the chance to come to a new country and experience a different culture of people and see the opportunities people have here, but also the realities of people who are less fortunate than me. Rome has so much to offer and it is somewhere I have fallen in love with and after seeing that there are outreach programs for those less fortunate, it is a promising step forward to create a better sense of equality and care for those who need it.
I do not know my future, but I know that I will be more caring and thoughtful when taking in new experiences and people because all people deserve the same respect and care. I see myself becoming more adventurous and and open-minded in every sense because it creates a better sense of my identity and how I interact with others.