On February 3rd, I’m boarding a plane to Milan, and then a bus to Turin. I’m participating in this program from Greenheart Travel. I’ll be living with a host family and working as a English teaching assistant at a nearby high school for three months.
After that, I plan on spending another few months exploring Italy, starting in the North and working my way down… all the way down. All branches of my family are descended from immigrants who left various parts of Southern Italy and Sicily for Cleveland roughly 110-130 years ago. Nobody in my direct line of ancestry has ever been back.
I have a deep longing for understanding of this land. Through Italy, I want to better understand who I am and who my family is. I want to understand Italian culture and learn how it shaped me. I want to feel connected to the past. We’ve been in the United States for a hundred years, while my ancestors likely lived in the same small towns in Italy and Sicily for hundreds upon thousands of years. Returning to those towns, walking the streets they walked and breathing they air they breathed… can only be a spiritual experience.
Alcara li Fusi, Sicily
After Italy, I will explore the rest of Europe, using trains and planes, and staying in hostels. I have a very rough outline of what I want to do, though it’s subject to change depending on financial and other considerations.
After Europe, I want to go to Israel to check out the Holy Land and then continue east to Southeast Asia – Mainly Thailand with excursions into Cambodia, Vietnam, and other surrounding countries, following the so-called Banana Pancake Trail.
Finally, I’ll return home around Christmas 2016.
That’s the plan, anyways. Nothing is set in stone.