Carly Pizzitola (Social Action in Rome) – Best Buddies ItaliaRome Internships, Spring 2012

While in Rome for the semester I wanted to somehow make a difference, I just didn’t know how to do that in less than four months. I didn’t speak the language and I didn’t have any networks here, I didn’t know how I was going to make this happen. I found out that IES offered a Social Action internship, it was perfect! At my home school I had spend a lot of time volunteering and working with non – profits so I decided that  I was going to try and connect with one abroad. When it was time to pick a site that I would be interning at Best Buddies stood out. I had known a little about the organization beforehand. There’s a collegian chapter at my home campus and I knew friends that were involved. The organization ‘s mission statement, “Best Buddies® is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)”. I really connected with this organization because I have some experiences with working with children with IDD in the past. I have volunteered with Special Olympics at a nearby elementary school. When I was working with the children there I just remember how loving and caring these children were. I enjoyed watching them have fun without a care in the world. My mother also works with children with IDD so I have come into her classroom and worked with the kids and talked to them. The school system in the states has its flaws but honestly provides the children with IDD a lot. There are so many laws and governmental requirements for the school systems to abide by. They also provide the children with opportunities to be exposed to the real life by providing job opportunities when they are older and also facilities and transition programs so they can someday live on their own with little help. My main objective was to see how accommodations the Italian government provided differed from the system I’m familiar with in the States and to see how people with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities were treated differently. Just from my limited experience in the States I feel that in today’s world people with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities are nowadays are more accepted in our society. Don’t get me wrong, there are still taboo’s and prejudices towards people with IDD but I think there is a lot more assistance and acceptance than there once was. My predictions as of right now before I actually start to get into my internship and get to know the Italian system is that there are going to be a limited number of accommodations for these people. Also I’ve been here for about three weeks now and I have honestly to the best of my ability to see any person with an IDD. From this, I’m suspecting that the Italian culture isn’t as open as in the States and that these people might still be frowned upon. I can’t wait to see where my internship with Best Buddies leads me and I feel like I will be able to make a difference while being here this short period of time. I also feel like I will be learning a lot and will appreciate this experience. I think by doing this internship this semester  it will be eye opening and will truly make my study abroad experience more valuable and rewarding.
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