Those studying abroad at the Umbra Institute are not just students in Perugia, but also temporary citizens. More often than not, Umbra students come to think of their adopted city as a second home. An integral part of this process is building connections with the local community and Italians of all ages and walks of life – relationships that Umbra strives to foster every semester.
With this goal in mind, Umbra offers an array of volunteer opportunities during the Fall and Spring semester to engage and challenge students of diverse interests and levels of Italian. By giving your time, you will find yourself to be a truly welcomed and valued part of a bustling volunteer community while creating some of the most memorable experiences of your study abroad. Read on further for brief descriptions of our volunteer collaborations.
UNICEF Pigotta Workshop
For many years, Umbra has collaborated with UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund), the leading humanitarian program for children and mothers in developing countries. As a UNICEF volunteer, you will work with the local UNICEF staff, a collection of kind and welcoming local Italian women, to make your own Pigotta, or ragdoll, which are then adopted at local markets for 20€. The profits from your Pigotta doll save a mother and child by providing them with a full range of vaccinations. Students with an advanced level of Italian language study may have the opportunity to be placed at UNICEF’s Perugia headquarters working with fundraising, marketing, and administrative efforts.
Middle School and High School English Language Tutoring – Fall Semester Only
You can become a teaching assistant at one of Perugia’s local middle school or high schools where you will join in on English language activities and mentor the pupils once a week on the ins-and-outs of grammar and writing while fielding questions about American culture.
Manitese Seasonal Project
Volunteer with Manitese, a non-profit organization based in Italy that works to eliminate poverty and injustice in third-world countries. Each year from November 30th-December 24th, Manitese organizes an initiative called “Much more than a wrapped gift!”, which calls on volunteers in more than 80 bookstores throughout Italy to wrap gifts for small donations. Along with wrapping presents, you will educate clients about Manitese and its mission. The donations from the “Much More than a Package!” initiative go to supporting the Manitese project, “From the Street to the School.” This project promotes the education and training of children who live on the street and the outskirts of society in Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, and India. Ask the community engagement staff about how you can get involved!
Umbra Guide to Perugia
Upon arrival in Perugia, Umbra students are given a copy of The Umbra Institute’s Student Guidebook. Started in 2005, this guide is updated each semester by students, for students. Although it contains some Institute specific information, it is designed mainly to provide helpful information about Perugia and Italy. During this opportunity, you will update text and photos as well as create new content. Work is largely independent, but brief group progress and planning meetings occur regularly. Umbra also looks for student volunteers to assist with program assessment sessions, photo and video submissions, and other Institute activities. Ask the student services staff about how you can get involved!
You have the unique opportunity to lend a hand with seasonal farm work such as harvesting locally-grown produce including green beans, olives, and grapes in Umbria’s scenic Azienda Agraria Orsini, a family-run farm overlooking the scenic Lake Trasimeno.
POST Science and Technology Museum
Nestled amongst Perugia’s ancient buildings you will find a vibrant glimpse into the future: POST, Perugia Officina per la Scienza e la Tecnologia, a science museum and interactive laboratory that plays host to adults and children of all ages. During this opportunity, you will have the opportunity to aid the POST staff with Italian-to-English translations as well as the day-to-day organization of interactive exhibits and school field trips.
Volta la Carta Project – Nuova Dimensione Cooperative
For the last 30 years. the cooperative Nuova Dimensione has provided assistance to children and adults with motor and/or intellectual disabilities in Perugia and in the Umbria region. As a volunteer, you will help with the program called “Volta la Carta” (“Turn the Card Over”) for adults with intellectual disabilities. You will help the participants create accessories (i.e., bags, wallets, purses, etc.) and art work made from recycled materials. Afterwards, these artisan products will be sold at local markets and the proceeds will help fund Nuova Dimensione aid programs.
Orto Sole Association
Orto Sole is an association dedicated to making urban green spaces available to the community, to promote a healthy living culture, and to provide support for social projects. You can become a member with a small donation and help them in their mission to maintain an open green area for didactic activities, social events, and agricultural production.
Ask the community engagement staff how you can get involved!