I chose this program as my first-year practicum. Projects Abroad was one of the companies approved by my school and the Refugee Project in Italy was directly related to the field I'm working towards going into.
Nicole is in her late twenties, going to school for a social work degree. Nicole plans to use her degree to help refugees integrate into her home country, Canada.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your university assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
My college provided me with my options and advised me of the various scholarships that were available to travel abroad. I organized which program I wanted to go on and raised funds for my travels. Italy did not require me to get a visa or have any immunizations.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I wish I would have known to brush up on my Italian before I arrived. I would have made better connections with the refugees and the locals if I had earned a bit of Italian before arriving.
The app Duolingo is great to get the basics, but because the wifi was in and out while I was there, I couldn't practice during my down time at the project.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
The coordinators are really good at making sure you only have as much work as you'd like to have. A normal day would be taking care of children aged 3-5 while their parents attended Italian lessons for 2 hours in the morning.
This was followed by Italian lessons for me (which wasn't entirely useful as it wasn't often enough), lunch, then the afternoon off which we used this time to prepare the English lesson we would have for the children aged 4-8 in the afternoon, then dinner.
Some evenings we had teen nights, or women's nights, other evenings we had off to walk around town or hang out with friends (refugees) we made at the project.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was that I didn't know what would be expected of me, I was really walking into the project blind. I knew there was a possibility I would be teaching English but had never done that before so that made me the most nervous.
Upon arrival, I realized that my expectations of an English lesson were much higher than what was expected of us. I simply googled how to teach English and asked friends back home who are teachers for different educational games we could play with the children.
What experience had the greatest impact on you?
Hearing the stories of how the refugees came to Camini. These people have been through unimaginable traumas and hearing their stories, and being able to connect those stories to a human being, really impacted me emotionally.
I didn't expect to become such good friends with them. I spent night after night hanging out with the same people and we really bonded, I still talk to them on Whatsapp today, 2 months after I left the project. Camini truly stole my heart and I hope to go back one day.