The Hardest Week Yet
After coming back from Zagreb, I was so incredibly unprepared for what week 6 had in store for us. It was religion week. We spent the entire week learning about the three main religions in the world and how they coexist (or don’t) in Roma. Day 1 (Monday), was an intro to the history of religion in Roma. We had three readings for that week – one on Young Muslims, another on Inter-religious Dialogue and another on Roman Jews. Monday we spoke about the history of Rome and Catholicism before also having a lecture on the Islamic Religion. After the lecture section of our class, we had a guest speaker, Ejaz. Ejaz spoke to us about what it is like to be of Pakistani origin and living in Roma. He is also an intercultural mediator for the Pakistani culture so he told us all about his program and what he does when school’s request to talk to him. Something that really stuck out to me is when he was talking about maps. He spoke about how most maps in our world are European centered, in that if you think about it Europe is in the center of the map. Then he showed us the map he uses when he talks about different cultures, Europe isn’t in the center, the Pacific Ocean is instead. I thought it was so interesting and a point I had never even thought about before.
On Tuesday we of course had service learning, and I got to see all of my kids. I’m so glad they’re finally warming up to me and drawing me pictures. I’m going to have quite the collection to take home, I know I’m going to miss these kids so much already – even if we can barely communicate.
Wednesday was all about Catholicism and Inter-religious Dialogue. We had a lecture on Catholicism and all the Vatican after Italian class that morning. After the lecture we had another guest speaker. He is part of the organization Religions for Peace and is working towards Inter-religious Dialogue. He spoke a lot about what that means and how it is taking place in Roma. He also gave his opinion on Religion Hour (which is the hour of religion that occurs in all public schools in Italia, but is strictly about Catholicism). Thursday we had the day off because it was labour day! I spent the day wandering around, eating gelato, and just having a good time. Friday was the most interesting day for me – we spoke about Judaism. In the morning we went to the Jewish Museum and Synagogue in the “Jewish Ghetto.” The Museum is incredibly interesting and has so many different artifacts. It was really nice to be surrounded by Hebrew again. The museum is in the basement of a building that contains two synagogues. One is much smaller than the other, but both are beautiful. The larger synagogue is called The Great Synagogue and it definitely deserves its name. It is incredibly ornate and gorgeous. Something I found really interesting is that the entire Jewish Population in Rome is Orthodox. They also are neither from Sephardic or Ashkenazi decent. Instead, the Jews who came to Italy came before the destruction of the Temple so they are their own “Italian Judaism,” and follow practices from before the destruction of the Temple, unlike the rest of the Jewish People in the world. Later in the day we had another guest speaker. It was incredibly interesting to hear her story. She was born in Austria in the late 1930’s and moved to America when she was 3 years old, right before the war started. After living in America for a while she eventually moved to Italy for a job and then ended up staying here. She also works for Religions for Peace and is incredibly involved in Inter-religious Dialogue. Definitely one of my favorite guest speakers so far.
I stayed in Rome for the weekend because we went as a program to visit a mosque on Saturday morning. It was really intriguing because the mosque used so many different types of architecture from different cultures, so it was quite different than the mosques I’ve seen. On Sunday I had more gelato and went biking in Villa Borghese. It was so nice to be back on a bike, I’ve missed it so much. Other than that, my weekend was really uneventful, I’m just enjoying living in Roma. Monday was uneventful – we had Italian class and then our normal lecture. We mostly discussed what Torino would be like and what we would be doing. Tuesday was of course service learning, with many more drawings to bring home. And on Wednesday, We left for Torino!