I chose to volunteer at the Orsini’s agriturismo located in Passignano sul Trasimeno to assist the family with vendemmia, which is Italian for the grape harvest. For those that are not familiar with the term agriturismo, it is an Italian word (agrotourism in English) combining the words agriculture and tourism. The Orsini family gives foreigners from all over the world a chance to see a different side to the Italian life: those living on a farm and working the land. The Orsini family’s main products would be wine, olive oil, pastas, and even different types of beans. However, when I think of the Orsini’s, the local community doesn’t necessarily jump into my head. While the family makes Umbrian products, the only thing they do with them is sell them to the public. If anything, they strengthen what it means to be a family and work together. That being said, I feel that the Orsini family plays a large role in the global or international community. People from all over the world come to stay with the family to help them. When I went with a few students from the Umbra Institute, we all came together and joined hands with the Italians. They discussed things to us about how their typical day goes on the farm and what they do in certain parts of the wine producing phase. Additionally, we were able to practice our Italian with them. This experience was much earlier on in my study abroad trip, and so being able to listen to them speak as well ask try and speak back definitely helped in strengthening my basic Italian language skills. All in all, it was such a fun experience helping out picking grapes, talking to the Italians on the side of you or across from you in the vineyard, and enjoying a nice Italian lunch made by the family. This experience gets people from all over the world to achieve a common goal. That goal may not be human rights but this is something that brings us closer together. While this isn’t exactly like our definition of a global community and instead of rights our goal was ‘grapes’, I thought that was pretty cool that we all came together from different places and became a team.
Looking back on this experience, I always find it amazing how different life is for everyone. This family does this all year round, meeting people from all over the world and hearing different people’s stories. I’d imagine (and expect) that the Orsini family wholeheartedly loves what they do. It is such a simple, Italian way of life. It really made me think about how I have so many choices in life and that there are endless possibilities. I’ve met so many different types of people here in Perugia and they all have their own story. After this experience, I’ve wanted to get to know as many people as I can and hear what they have to say. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to live in another country for so long, so it’s important to me to make connections and hear about people’s lives while I still can. This is why Slimbach’s words mean so much to: “The first step in this journey is to venture outside our comfort zones and get involved directly and personally in the lives of others, especially those occupying the margins of society…to create respectful and mutually beneficial relationships.” At home I’m more reserved, but in Perugia I like to establish relationships and talk to a lot of people. In this way, I step out of my comfort zone to create something special.
The picture I chose for this post is a funny one of a friend and myself on t
he vineyard. I am holding a near-perfect bunch of grapes while my friend smiles in the background. It was a fun time.