Chrissy Armstrong - 2014 Program Participant

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

The Trevi Fountain in Rome

What inspired you to apply for an international program?

Up until I went to volunteer in Italy, I had never set foot outside of the United States. I had always wanted to travel, but I was extremely hesitant to take that first step and try something new. One day a friend had mentioned that we should try something new, something new like packing up and going to another country for a summer. Without any hesitation the hunt was on to find a program that was intriguing.

I had been stuck in my comfort zone for far too long and decided it was time to just take a giant step and see how it changed my life.

Why did you choose Italy?

I've only heard great things about Italy, and the culture has always fascinated me. I was also going to school to start a career in working with children. I could not think of a better way to volunteer my time than to help children while also visiting a historic country.

Visiting Pompeii

Pompeii with Mount Vesuvius in the background

What was your favorite part about Italy?

The culture. Immersing myself in something completely different than how I was raised and what's normal to me was absolutely life changing. And originating from Colorado, there are no beaches, seeing the ocean every day is something I could get use to.

What made your program one-of-a-kind?

Seeing the kids pick up the language and actually progress was amazing. Some kids barely knew anything but they would slowly pick up little things and it was amazing to see their faces light up when they understood something or could form a sentence.

Even making a little impact on someone's life and sharing a little bit of who you are with a child is the best feeling ever.

How did local staff support you in Italy?

They were there every step of the way to provide any assistance they could, whether helping us with the camp or helping us navigate our next weekend adventure.

What do you wish you could change about your program?

Besides learning a little bit more Italian, I wouldn't change a thing.

Describe a day in your life in Italy.

We would wake up and bike to the campsite and each kid was eagerly waiting for our arrival. We would open up with some greetings and then ease into some flash cards and note taking. Then we would incorporate some fun games into our learning. A couple hours in we would take a break and just hang out with the kids; this is when we really got to see their personalities and see our progress show, since they would all attempt to talk to us and show us what they were learning. As the parents would pick up their kids they would walk away telling their parents everything they learned that day with huge smiles on their faces.

What did you like to do on your freetime?

Traveling. Each weekend we would plan a trip to our next Italian destination. I got to see the differences between many cities and what makes that place special.

What was your accommodation like in Italy?

We were given an apartment less than 500 feet from the beach. We were all the way at the top, so we had a great view. All the camp counselors were in the same building so it helped us become so close and grow as a team. The apartment was amazing, it felt like our home away from home.

Inside the Colosseum in Rome, Italy

The Colosseum

Now that you're home, how has your time in Italy impacted your life?

All I want to do is travel. There is so much more out there than the bubble I grew up in. Diving into another culture and taking on how they live life is so interesting to me. The world has so much beauty and so much to offer, I want to enjoy as much of it as I can.