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Participants in all SIS programs are encouraged to perform service in the community through the IC partner Ulisse Cultural Association. This service can range from 1-5 hours a week and opportunities are in a variety of different service sites. Students might set tables at the city soup kitchen, visit with the elderly at a nursing home, teach English to local elementary school children or volunteer on the city ambulance. Volunteering in the community is an unparalleled way to improve language skills, get involved in the local social fabric and make a genuine contribution to the host community.
One of the areas in need is the public school system of Siena. Due to recent severe reforms resulting in significant budget cuts and a reduction of educational resources, there is an increasing demand for skilled and enthusiastic volunteer figures within the school system. Through this experience, students have an opportunity to utilize their skills and energy to make a positive impact on the Sienese public school system. Students who decide to work in an elementary school classroom will be paired with an elementary school teacher who will offer suggestions and advice on how to operate within the classroom. Another possibility within the elementary school (given the appropriate circumstances) is to take on the role of intercultural mediator for foreign children. We view this project as an opportunity to enter into one of the most significant facets of Italian society, therefore gaining a more profound understanding of society as a whole.
The Arciconfraternità della Misericordia di Siena is an association dating back to the Middle Ages that is dedicated to volunteer medical assistance and community service. Students who work with this organization can choose to focus their energies on a variety of medical realities. They will work alongside medical volunteers in an ambulance providing assistance in transporting patients to and from the hospital, and will be trained in the various levels of emergency medical assistance through courses offered by the Misericordia: basic and advanced levels of emergency medical assistance and a specialized course for on-call residential service. Working with the Misericordia, students will get to know personally medical and paramedical personnel of every level and be offered a detailed picture of the Italian healthcare system. In the interests of cultural exchange, students will also be encouraged to organize English language workshops for fellow volunteers, as English is very useful in a popular tourist destination such as Siena.
This is a day center 100% volunteer run that provides space, assistance, and organizes activities for Siena’s disabled community. Students can serve along with local volunteers in organizing and participating in activities that range from art and music to excursions to a local pool or even nearby towns.
This organization in Siena is dedicated to helping immigrants assimilate more smoothly into life in Siena. This includes helping immigrants find employment, access healthcare, acquire language skills, as well as legal aid when necessary. Students can volunteer in the office and work directly with immigrants in need. Activities include internet research, translation, accompanying people to offices, interviews, appointments etc.
The soup kitchen is located at the Convent of San Girolamo and it provides a very important service to the city of Siena. The volunteers assist in distributing meals to Italians and immigrants in need. In the same structure there is also a center for the collection and distribution of donated clothing for the less fortunate. Student volunteers help the sisters both in the soup kitchen and at the clothing distribution center.
Italy’s elderly population is actually (2010) the highest in the world. Siena is no exception. The “Poggio al Vento” elderly center is home to more than 30 residents. Students can work at a local elderly residence providing service to those who are no longer able to entirely care for themselves. The facility is located in the center of Siena and employs both professional caregivers as well as volunteers from the community. Activities in which students participate include excursions, games/entertainment, serving meals, and simply providing company to those who are in need of human contact.
La Proposta runs, in the medieval gardens, “L’Orto Dei Pecci”, a restaurant which employs recovering drug addicts, ex-convicts, and individuals with special needs. There are two different sectors where students can serve. Students are able to assist in cooking food with restaurant employees, preparing the dining area for customers, cleaning the kitchen, and serving meals. Students also have the opportunity to work in the gardens, both in restoration and in the cultivation of vegetables. The garden has lately become very popular.
REPCAM (Relais Enfants – Parents of Cameroon) is a local NGO in Cameroon aimed and building and maintaining a relationship between incarcerated parents and their children. REPCAM works to maintain the parental relationship, provide the medical care and clothing of babies who are born and live with their incarcerated mothers, create specific spaces to humanize meetings between parent and child, and ensure psychological and social support for children of prisoners. Through this partnership with REPCAM, graduate students at SIS have the chance to partner with an NGO working in development and put what they are learning in the classroom to practice in the field. Opportunities for developing skills in media, communications, event planning, fundraising, and community outreach are available.
Le Mura is a volunteer organization whose goal it is to clean, maintain, and created a path around Siena’s ancient city walls. Students are involved in mapping out areas to clean and are involved in the organization and realization of cleaning and path-creating projects.
A youth home in Siena for minors who either have no family or have family situations that require them to live temporarily in a home. Students provide aid with a group of full-time social workers who run the home. Projects vary depending on the number and nationality of youth in the home. Many of the youth in the home are foreign and ended up in Italy as refugees.
The Associazione Centro Ippico “Della Pergola” ASD is an organization that provides various forms of physical therapy to children and adults with disabilities. Students work at the organization’s newly constructed stables and helping with riding therapy, “ippoterapia”. Responsibilities will vary, as “Della Pergola” is a very hands-on organization. Students with previous riding experience may be asked to work solely with preparing the horses, while others will do any number of odd jobs on the grounds. Previous experience with horses is preferred.