We made it to L’Arca! It has been about 4 weeks now since we arrived, and Amanda and I have learned so much. I remember being so nervous to meet everyone and start heading to the community because I still wasn’t entirely sure on how I was supposed to approach the community. When we reached the community, about a 25-minute drive from the airport, Alessandro showed us to the house, Cedro, where we were going to be staying for the two months we were volunteering. We met several of the other volunteers and we started to unpack our things and settle in. We had some time to rest and collect ourselves, but soon Daniela, the woman in charge of the volunteers in the community, called us in and gave us a tour of the community. It was all a little bit overwhelming because there was so much to remember, and the language made it even harder to understand and follow. At this time, she also gave us and explained our schedules. Since there are three different houses in the community, Amanda was assigned to work in Mana while I was placed in Grano. The first two weeks were difficult for me because it was hard to adjust to the community’s flow and learn a new language. Italian is still difficult for me and I am nowhere near being fluent, but I am able to understand when given instructions. I have also learned some phrases and words along the way which have really helped to communicate with the people with disabilities as well.
Now that we have had about a month in the community, I feel like I have the flow of things around here. Every morning after breakfast, everyone goes to a large room in Mana to greet other community members good morning. That was extremely helpful in learning everyone’s names. I have learned that on Mondays, Amanda and I help out with physical therapy. On Tuesdays, we form groups and we go on a day trip outside of the community before lunch. Wednesdays can be very busy for me because it is usually cleaning the house and takes up all the time before lunch time. On Thursdays and Fridays, I usually help in the kitchen. That means either helping to chop fruits and vegetables or cleaning the kitchen. Getting the hang of the schedule makes it easier to work and allows for a smoother transition because then we don’t end up wasting time. Overall, my experience here has been eye-opening, and I can’t wait to learn more Italian and be able to communicate better with others. Being with the disabled members of the community has also allowed me to treasure the small things and appreciate time spent just being present in life.