This July, Georgetown University student Nicole Ruggiero (pictured above with ACIL programs manager Anna Medvedeva) spent the month at Boys' Towns of Italy in Rome. The granddaughter of an Italian migrant, she has dedicated herself to studying migrant issues in Europe and traveled to Boys' Towns to spend time with our young citizens. Now back at school in Washington, D.C., she shared her thoughts of the summer with us.
My name is Nicole Ruggiero and I am a junior at Georgetown University majoring in Culture and Politics and minoring in Italian. One of the broadest majors offered in my program, my courses have worked to combine my major and minor to study the phenomenon of migration in Italy and how it is affected by various parts of a migrant’s identity. As a way to expand upon my classroom education, I have also been lucky enough to receive a research fellowship for the next four years.
I therefore jumped at the opportunity to stay at Boys’ Town of Italy this summer. Not only would it be an opportunity to improve my Italian, it would also allow me to observe the experiences of unaccompanied migrant minors in Italy and hopefully provide me with a wealth of information for my research. I could not have expected the warm welcome I would receive from the citizens of Boys’ Town, its staff and educators, and individuals I had the privilege of meeting throughout my stay at Boys’ Town.
My favorite part of any country visit is the conversations I have with the incredible staff at each of our programs. When I visited the programs supported by Boys’ & Girls’ Towns of Guatemala last month, I was once again inspired by their dedication to our young people.
During a meal with the sisters at Hogar del Niño, one of our partner programs, a small girl named Lincy sat nestled among the sisters and quietly ate her lunch. She gave me a beautiful smile when I performed my silly magic tricks, but otherwise seemed content to sit and observe the goings-on. When I asked why she was not eating with the other children, the sisters explained that they had noticed how small she was for her age. Concerned that yet another one of their students was suffering from malnutrition at home, they had Lincy sit with them during lunch every day so they could offer her extra servings. I added some encouragement of my own by giving her my bracelet. It dwarfed her small wrist, and I asked her to eat lots of healthy food so the bracelet would fit the next time I visited.
Guatemala has the highest rate of malnutrition among children in Central and South America. Without the attentive care of teachers and staff members, children like Lincy often remain malnourished and suffer the effects through adulthood. I am so grateful to know our young citizens are being looked after with such commitment – and thankful to supporters like you for providing our program staff with the resources they need. Muchas gracias!