I chose to volunteer with an organization that look for American students in order to give back to the Florentine community by gardening at the Stibbert Museum. I went this past week before class when it was luckily a beautiful seventy degree day outside. It was such a small organization that was incredibly organized and passionate about giving back to both Florence but the environment as well. Florence is always pristinely clean as beautiful that clearly takes so many peoples hard work to get there. It was so nice to be able to take part in giving back to the community and the beauty that people come to Florence to see each day. I got there and I had to sign an insurance form and was given a pair of gardening gloves. For most of the time, I was pulling weeds so they would not kill the plants that are finally blooming but I also got the chance to plant a few flowers. Overall, I am so glad I finally got the chance to give back to the community I now consider myself apart of.
Volunteering is an activity that one often truly finds the beauty in after they have been of aid. Volunteering may not always be on the top of one’s list of things to do, however it is like working out. You know you should because you will feel so much better both physically and emotionally, but it can sometimes be really difficult to push yourself to go out of your comfort zone and do something different or possibly a little difficult. However, once the hard work is done and the workout is over, it is truly gratifying to know you pushed yourself which always feels the best: the things you had to work harder for. That is the beauty of volunteering and ultimately life: achieving goals that require hard work because they will bring happiness to oneself and others. Service relates to our class definition of the Global Community because service affects more people other than oneself and service is an act that people can do together and for each other which is the ultimate goal in becoming and being part of the Global Community.
This impacted my time abroad as it was an opportunity that opened my eyes a bit more towards being apart of both the Florentine community and the Global Community. It can be really easy to lose focus of the importance of studying abroad and how much power we hold as individuals in regard to influencing how people perceive Americans and how we appreciate our time in another country. Although this can happen anywhere, it can be easy to follow a ritualistic pattern that we become comfortable in and prevents us from opening or eyes further to the world. Richard Slimbach captured this when he said “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”. Volunteering opened my eyes towards helping the community that I am momentarily apart of more. There is no reason why I shouldn’t give back to the Florentine community just as much or even more than I do at home in the US just because I am here for a limited amount of time. Time is also an aspect that can easily hold people back from opportunity which is silly when often those opportunities that people often talk themselves out of due to time restraints can easily be manageable enough to fit in to one’s schedule if prioritized. Helping others and one’s community should ‘always’ be a priority and if people keep that in mind and occasionally do so, the world will become a much better place and becoming apart of the global community will be a much more realistic goal.