The Most Rewarding Experience: English Conversations at Casa Internazionale Delle Donne
Grace, Spring 2024, Rome
April 18, 2024

The first photo taken with me, other JCU volunteers, and the members of the Rome community who came to learn English.

I immediately was interested in volunteering at Casa Internazionale delle donne or “The International Women’s House” of Rome when I learned English-speaking students at JCU could get involved by helping teach members of the Rome community how to better read, listen, and speak English. This house is a shelter for women who have been victims of violence, providing many services to empower women, and is located only a few feet from JCU’s Guarini campus.

Another photo taken after a Wednesday lesson.

I began volunteering at Casa Internazionale delle donne every Wednesday afternoon this semester, and slowly began to recognize and be recognized by the men and women who would come to the “class” each week to learn a little more English. Over the course of this semester, I have been able to grow and learn better about myself, about the Roman community, and about the culture of Rome through the stories, conversations, and time spent together with the members of the community who came to learn English.
Each week, we would unpack an article about a certain relevant event, and have an English learner read a paragraph out loud, followed by any questions they may have about a word they do not know the meaning of or the pronunciation of. The articles ranged in categories, including such titles as “Ways to Support Mental Health,” “Try Something New for 30 Days,” “French Bulldog Becomes US Top Dog,” “To Cut Food Waste, Switzerland Tries Public Refrigerators.”

My favorite articles were the ones that brought about lively discussions, and often debates, among the students learning English and the “teachers”– us JCU students. Through the discussion of various articles, including “Valentine’s Day Wasn’t Always about Love,” and “How to Celebrate International Women’s Day,” taught me about the culture surrounding love and the respect of women in Italy.

My last time volunteering at Casa Internazionale Delle Donne, ending with many of the same men and women I started this experience with.

Other articles such as “Paris Once Had Too Many Cars, Now It Has Too Many Bikes,” “How Connected Are You to the World?” led to discussion of Rome’s culture surrounding cars and bikes, and the Italian’s opinion on how one can become connected to other areas of the world, and for me as a student, how I can become more connected to Italy. Each week with its new topic was a learning experience for me to better understand cultural differences between what I know from the United States and Italy.

These conversations were invaluable to me and to my understanding of Italy and Rome. Through this community service, each week I was able to have a conversation with a member of the Rome community, and it allowed me to grow in so many ways. I am incredibly grateful for this experience, but more so for the different perspectives it gave me, the connections with the community, and the relationships built that I will cherish the rest of my life.

Written by: Grace, Spring 2024 Rome student, from Baylor University

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