Interning in Rome: Maria's Perspective


April 1, 2020

Written by Maria Terrinoni, an Arcadia University student who studied on the Arcadia Rome Program in the Spring of 2020. Maria Interned at Joel Nafuma Refugee Center

I remember getting ready for my first interview. It was early in the morning, but 1:00 in Rome. I told my roommates, “You can’t come into the living room, and if you do you have to be quiet!” I picked out a business casual top, and paired it with my pajama pants. Then, I opened up Zoom and gave myself a pep talk for my first meeting with Paola and Chiara. They answered my call, and said they needed five more minutes. After they hung up, I had a mini panic attack. I forgot they would have accents! 

Despite my first panic attack, my interview process was very easy, and Paola and Chiara were very easy to talk to (even with an accent!). My second interview was with Paola, Chiara, and my internship point of contact, Mansur. I remember the three had a conversation in Italian, and all I could think was “Oh no, they must be talking about me!” All of my worry was for nothing though, because upon my arrival in Italy, I quickly realized I had interviewed with some of the kindest people in all of Rome.

My internship was at Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, right in the heart of Rome. My days mostly consisted of working in the Supply Room, handing out materials such as clothes, tissues, shower supplies, and shoes to refugees. I also had some other responsibilities such as teaching computer classes and working with the Human

Rights lawyers once a week. Even though I only worked at my internship for a month, it was a life changing experience. Not only was I able to work with some extremely caring individuals, but I was also able to work with extraordinarily brave and inspiring refugees.

With my unexpected and quick return to the United States, my biggest regret is that I wasn’t able to say goodbye to the friends that I made at JNRC. Unfortunately, the center had to close its doors due to coronavirus before I had the chance to see them again. Now that I am at home in the States, I often find myself thinking about the many refugees in Rome who now have nowhere to go with the center being closed.

During these trying times when we are all safe and healthy in our homes, it is important that we think about those who can’t quarantine at home, those who don’t have a home to go to.

I pray every day for the health of all the refugees I worked with. I wish I could be back at JNRC, handing out the supplies that refugees so

desperately need. I may physically be in the United States, but my heart remains in Rome with all the amazing people I met including the Arcadia staff, my coworkers, and of course the many refugees.