A Summer of Twists and Turns and Inevitable Growth in Trieste

As an Italian American, my summers in Italy have always revolved around the familiar warmth of close relatives, rekindling old memories, and crafting new ones. However, this summer, I stepped into the unfamiliar waters of Italy. Leaving behind the coziness of Trapani, Sicily, my journey took me to Trieste. Over the span of three intense months, I dived deep into a myriad of volunteering experiences, each offering insights into the nuances of working and living in Italy.

My background, marked by tutoring sessions in Italian on campus and virtually teaching immigrants, led me to believe that transitioning to an in-person setting would be a breeze. Reality had other plans. From my past experience of teaching English-speaking immigrants, predominantly from Central African countries on Zoom, I was now faced with a cosmopolitan classroom. Students hailed from almost every corner of the world, each bringing unique learning styles and diverse backgrounds. This posed challenges, from teaching some unfamiliar with their native alphabets to those already proficient in English. But, teaching in person had its own charm. The rewards were palpable. One instance remains in my mind of when a student I had taught in June, recognized me in the city in August, waved me down, and showcased an immense linguistic progress that I would have never thought possible.

My aspiration to become a physician made my time with DONK Humanitarian Medicine the most anticipated part of my trip. The stories of patients, and their arduous journeys to Italy, coupled with the unwavering dedication of medical professionals and volunteers, reshaped my perception of medicine. It helped me understand that being a physician incorporates genuine care and the desire to do good regardless of personal gains. The commitment, kindness, and relentless pursuit of doing good at DONK will forever serve as my beacon of inspiration in my future career.

However, Trieste also presented its set of challenges. One of my main objectives for the summer was to lead a study on psychological disturbances in immigrant patients in Italy. This venture, born from months of rigorous preparation prior to my arrival, seemed ready to take off. My proposal had been scrutinized, fine-tuned, and reshaped multiple times. Yet, destiny had a different story to tell. Despite the relentless efforts, regular meetings, and continuous revisions throughout the summer, my study never got off the ground. This setback, albeit disheartening, provided a silver lining. I learned resilience, adaptability, and the art of finding value in the journey rather than the end goal. As the study now starts to take shape, I remain hopeful and determined to see it materialize during my upcoming semester in Rome and the subsequent summer in Trieste.

In retrospect, mere words falter to capture the depth of my gratitude. My genuine and heartfelt thank you goes out to the CSLC, the Glynn Family Honors Program, the Italian Department, and the Rome Global Gateway. Your unwavering support – financial, developmental, and emotional – was a cornerstone of my transformative journey. Trieste wasn’t just a summer pit-stop; it marked a pivotal chapter of personal and communal growth. Grazie mille 🙂