June 2008 Archives

Too little time...

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I can't believe that there are only three more classes left to go in this year's program!  I thought I would blog a lot while I was here, but we have been off and running since we got here.  We have loved everywhere we have visited so far. 

I think Boys' Town was an excellent trip.  This seemed to resonate with a lot of the students, especially those who have considered working with homeless children or children in general.  I really didn't know exactly what to expect while we were there.  We had to take two buses to get there and it took about an hour.  We went with the CAS folks, which was nice, since it was my first experience with Roman public transportation.  I must say that the bus system is incredibly easy to use.  When my kids and I went to Siena and Volterra (more on those in a later blog) this week, we did quite well, even with the language issue (although we are all becoming more adept at speaking Italian and also making trip angels (more on those later as well)).  Anyway, it took about an hour to get to Boys' Town.  We were in a much more rural area than we had been previously this trip, except for Pompeii. 

The road was dusty but the air was full of perfume from unknown (to me) flowering bushes.  We walked up a long driveway to a series of low, stucco buildings.  Fortunately Jenny from CAS was there and she speaks excellent Italian, so she could let some folks working on the grounds know who we were looking for. 

Two lovely ladies came bustling up and introduced themselves.  They had kind faces and spoke very good English, thank goodness for me.  We were shown around the grounds, starting with the classroom and computer facilities.  We were fortunate enough to meet up with the computer instructor, who had been at Boys' Town as an orphan previously.  He was shy and spoke through an interpreter.  He told us about some of the projects the children worked on during the different years of instruction.  I had a chance to speak with him later and found he was from Eritrea.  What surprised me and some of the students, I believe, is that most of the boys living at Boys' Town were not from Italy, but from other locations, such as Afghanistan.  We found out that the boys were identified as in need by Roman or Italian social service workers and brought to Boys' Town.  Somehow they had gotten themselves to Italy where they were identified as in need of help. The boys ranged from 8-18 years of age.  Some of them have horrific stories, according to the director. 

We had a tour of the chapel and meeting area and then went on to have cookies (yum!) and delicious tea and coffee for a break.  Then we went on to the ceramics and metal shops where the boys create amazing art.  We also saw around the grounds works of art created by current and former residents.  We also saw a place where the boys could be led in Muslim prayer by someone brought into Boys' Town for that purpose. 

The students took lots of pictures of themselves and some of the boys who helped with the tour.  The current "mayor" of Boys' Town and two of his good friends were extremely outgoing after a while and were happy to talk with the students and answer their questions. 

Several of the HDFS students said they wanted to work here, starting that day!  It was hard to peel them away from the place and get back to the busstop.  I haven't heard much about orphanages in the US, just foster care.  The director of Boys' Town indicated that in Italy there was a new law recently that affected orphanages and almost led to the shut down of Boys' Town.  We all were glad that hadn't happened, since we got such a warm feeling from the people and place.

Roma! Nice neighborhood...

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Well, we arrived on Tuesday and slept for quite a while.  Then we went out for a walk of some amazing places.  First, we went to the church next door to our apartment block, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, which had been constructed atop a temple for Minerva, goddess of war, wisdom, medicine, and science.  This church has lovely frescoes and even a minor sculpture of Michelangelo.  This sculpture has its private parts covered by a bronze loincloth added by later Reformers.  Catherine of Siena is buried here, except for her head and part of her finger, William reminds me.  The head, at least, is in Siena, which we may visit in a couple of weeks on our way to Volterra.  Outside is an obelisk brought to Rome by Augustus from Egypt which tops an elephant sculpture created by Bernini.  On the top of the obelisk is a cross to show the dominance of the church.   


Thumbnail image for DSCN1275.JPGNext stop, the Pantheon.  This building was originally built by Marcus Agrippa, son-in-law of Augustus. It burned twice and was finally reconstructed by Hadrian in 118 A.D.  It was consecrated as a Christian church in about 609 A.D.

Next we went walked down to Trajan's column and then saw the backside of the market.  I didn't realize how amazing looking the market is until we were on our way back on the other side. 

We had delicious pizza but skipped the Gelato from what Cheryl claims is the best gelato place in Rome because we were so full.  Next stop was the Coliseum.  We have to go back there again to take the tour.  Shannon, the TA, assures us tours are worth every euro! 

 I feel very fortunate that our apartment and the Sedi are in such great locations.  We have hung out at the fountain near the Pantheon tons of time already.  We are about to go out now for a walk, perhaps along the river.  We went there the other night and Cheryl got some great pictures of the Vatican, reflected in the Tiber.  Wowl  Nice neighborhood, hm? 



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