I am sitting at home as I write today, but on my mind is the small apartment in Piazza Giuseppe Sciuti, the bustle of the market in the morning, and the sounds of the inhabitants slowly waking. I miss Catania , the sights, the Italian language, the smell of fresh bread baking nel forno, but most of all I miss the people who made my experience so memorable. I remember thinking of the possibility that I may end up living with some crazy people with habits and perspectives that I would disagree with (and don’t get me wrong that is likely) but I was so pleasantly surprised. Each member of my team taught me something valuable about their cultures and about themselves. Even though our internship itself was not always on time or well organized, I could always count on someone being there to adventure with me to a park, a library, a pasticerria, or trattoria. Living together was not always easy, especially with six people and one bathroom, but we shared in our cooking and in our thoughts on our project.
I also began to develop my understanding of patience and tolerance. Our apartment members withstood the trials of 90 degree weather without air conditioning or fans, and we did not have our own space. Despite the challenge it was rewarding being able to live in a mini United Nations and being together in our ignorance of what we would be doing in the days to come. I had to learn to wait, whether that was for attending a shoot or actually going outside. I also had to be patient in working with the Sicilians, who I want to believe were doing their best and just working at their cultural pace when they were slow or unorganized. I had a lot of time to focus on my own thoughts and the ways I thought about people, and in turn I learned to focus on positives in situations and understand that everyone is trying to do the same. By attending the academy I learned extensively about the different historical eras of photography, especially in the context of photography in Sicily. I also had to learn a lot about the cities we were traveling in, as we were often given tours by our Sicilian leaders (which I translated in to english for the other students). Living in Catania gave me an understanding of how the government works and what the various standards of living were. The skills for photography and also the life skills for working in difficult situations are something I’ll take with me as I move forward in my professional, social, and academic careers. I am so thankful to each person I learned from, and also so thankful for every opportunity I had to improve my Italian language and cultural knowledge, and personally differentiate between Sicilian and Northern Italian society.