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.
Conversations in the office and over lunch increased my confidence in my Italian and helped me to better understand the life of migrants at Boys’ Town and the Italian perspective on the migration issue. Meeting with the boys and being able to speak with them and observe just how Boys’ Town gives them a chance to find a new life in Italy was eye-opening on both a personal and research level. Whether it was through seeing them playing at Boys' Town, working in businesses around the area, or just listening to them speak about finances and life in their countries of origin, my understanding of the life of an unaccompanied minor migrant was greatly expanded.
At the same time, I was conducting my own research into the migration policies of both the Italian government and various institutions in the country, particularly the Catholic Church. Using the resources offered to me at Boys’ Town, including countless books and directors who were educated on the subject, I never had a dull moment in my research. I was also lucky enough to be able to meet with experts in the field from outside of Boys’ Town, forming connections and networks with truly incredible and intelligent people.
I’d like to thank A Chance in Life and all of the individuals at Boys’ Town of Italy for offering me this opportunity. Not only did I gain confidence in my Italian and expand my understanding of migration to Italy, I also grew on a personal level through my interactions with everyone I encountered. It was an unforgettable experience, and I left with more knowledge, independence, and lifetime connections than I came with.