Community service is a large part of becoming a member of the global community. In helping people of the community that you are a member of you becoming both more involved and help leave a positive impact on the people living there. Even if the community service is so small as planting a few flowers to make a common walking path a little prettier or volunteering your time at an organization you are always helping to make a difference.
I was unfortunately unable to perform my own community service, after two cancelled attempts to volunteer my time at a local farm my stay in Italy was coming to an end. As a result, I decided to interview one of my classmates who had taken a semester long class dedicated to community service. I conducted the interview with my classmate Paris Parken. Paris was taking a class on community engagement called Placemaking. The classes motto and a statement that really sums up what the class is all about says, “Studying abroad in Italy menas becoming a part of the local community and cultivating an intercultural connection with locals. For this reason, contributing to the evolution of the local community through the conversion of urban spaces into friendly, inclusive communities is the goal of the Umbra Institute’s ESUS 310: Placemaking: Creating Sustainable Urban Spaces and Communities.
Paris and her classmates’ semester long project was to build an urban spaces place making. At first I really didn’t understand what this meant even after I read the mission statement above, but that was when Paris brought me to see it. She worked in an area called Borgo Bello in the theatre district of Perugia. She worked with her classmates, the president of the area, and other members of the community to build benches and garbage cans. The main idea of the class was to turn a run down space into a public space for people to go, relax, and enjoy the view of the city. Her class also worked with a fresco painting class to help bring out even more beauty in the area.
The quote I chose to accompany this travel log is by Richard Slimbach who states, “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.” I think this quote works well with the travel log because Paris and her class did all of those things to have the impact they did. They went out of their comfort zones and had to meet with the people in charge of Borgo Bello. Without knowing if the locals would welcome this desired change to their area of shun it they still went forward with an open mind. Luckily the locals loved the idea and even lent their support. Paris and her classmates also got involved directly, Paris said she was using a hammer and nails to help build the benches and trashcans. Along with this she spent a lot of time planting flowers and other plants around the area. At the end of the semester the area was revealed to all the students at our school. They presented what they had done and helped unveil the new fresco that was going to adorn one of the walls right behind the area.
The picture accompanying this travel log is the four students that dedicated their time to make the area nice and friendly for the community. Also in the picture is a blown up photo of the view from Borgo Bello that the community will now be able to enjoy.