By Allison McCourt ’13
Fairfield University students are given many opportunities to live out Jesuit values while studying abroad. As they fully immerse themselves into a different culture, students are able to practice those values expressed back at the University through essential internships and service opportunities.
One of the largest service opportunities for University students studying abroad in Florence, Italy is a volunteer-based organization called La Misericordia. Providing services to Florentines since the 13th century, this free-of-charge organization provides transportation to the hospital and doctor’s appointments, has an ever-ready emergency team, collects food for those in need, and has its own retirement home for the elderly.
“I was a part of the civil service team and I helped with hospital and doctor’s appointment transports,” said biology major Gregg Perlmutter ’14, who volunteered for La Misericordia, said,“I helped transport people. Once I brought a woman to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get her license.”
“I went out on calls with other volunteers and we brought the patients from their apartments to the ambulance and then transported them to the hospital or other destinations,” he said. “I got to see a lot more of Florence, and I was able to become more immersed in the culture than some of my peers.”
Volunteer opportunities and internships presented overseas like La Misericordia allow students to continue serving the common good, promoting justice, and defending human dignity while developing intellectually and morally. Christopher Johnson, director of international programs, said, “For students at a Jesuit University, service and volunteerism abroad are part of our academic DNA and are an essential part of being immersed in a community, seeing it from different sides and coming to understand the texture of the society and its challenges as a contrast to the contours of our culture and our issues here at home, said Christopher Johnson, director of international programs. “By being engaged in the community, students also acquire a deeper understanding of global citizenship which is one of the core pathways that underpin Fairfield’s core curriculum.”
“Interning abroad has allowed me to experience a completely different culture in a very unique way and has changed my values and the way I approach situations,” Perlmutter said. “I have become more knowledgeable of the world around me and, thanks to La Misericordia, I have been inspired to continue helping others here in the states.”
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