Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Political Science in Naples, Italy: Day One

Arrival at Naples Airport
Today was The Citadel group’s first full day here in Naples, Italy. After an extremely long day of travel, it was nice to catch up on some sleep in the accommodation where we are staying. It is in an old Spanish monastery in Quartieri Spangoli (Spanish Quarter), a local neighborhood in the heart of the city. The view of Mount Vesuvius from our terrace is all I needed to know this is going to be a fantastic month abroad.
Mount Vesuvius from our terrace

The group started the day by going to breakfast at a local café not far from our house. Breakfast usually consists of coffee — an espresso shot back home in the States — and some kind of pastry such as a cream-filled croissant. Cappuccinos are a meal by themselves, a huge difference from the way we eat back home. The local volunteer coordinator, Usha, walked us from our residence to the local volunteer organization’s office. Walking the streets of Naples is similar to playing a game of Frogger. It is very fast paced and wild, but I loved it instantly.

After a short walk, the group made it to the office of the local International Volunteer Headquarters partner, International Napoli Network (INN). We met a few other volunteers while waiting for our volunteer orientation to begin. Orientation was made up of many different parts: we talked about our volunteer placements; we talked about the social customs and culture of Naples; and we talked about the founding of INN. It is a very young organization, just over a year and a half old. Our orientation group was one of the biggest the organization has had. We talked more about how we would be helping support local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). I will be working with an NGO named LESS. I’m very excited to start volunteering and helping any way I can.

Our street in the Spanish Quarter
After our orientation at INN, we went on a walking tour with an INN employee and local Neapolitan, Alessandro. Alessandro was born and raised in Naples and studied international politics here at a university as well. He showed us around Naples and pointed out different streets and landmarks of significance. One street we walked down splits northern and southern Naples and can be seen clearly via satellite. Another street, famous for crafts, was lined with every good imaginable it seems. Red horns were present in most stalls, and we were informed that there is an ongoing debate about whether they are supposed to be a chili pepper or the horn of the devil. Regardless of its true identity, the red horn is supposed to give the carrier good luck and fortune. Throughout the city, the influence of many different cultures can be seen: Roman, Greek, Egyptian, an Asian motifs are commonplace. This is due to the complex and rich history of Naples. We ended the walking tour not far from our house in the Spanish Quarter.

It was an extremely eventful first day, and it has left me excited me for what is to come the rest of our time here in Naples. I hope that each day can live up to the experiences of the first. I’m a little anxious to start my volunteer placement, but I’m excited to be making some effort to support a local NGO.

- Todd Truesdale 

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