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 (Raggedy Ann) dolls, which are then adopted at a local market 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.
Elementary, Middle, and High School English Language Tutoring – Fall Semester Only
You can become a teaching assistant at one of Perugia’s local 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.
You have the unique opportunity to harvest locally-grown produce such as green beans, olives, and grapes in Umbria’s scenic Agriturismo Orsini, a farm-restaurant hybrid 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. POST prides itself on making sciences accessible and entertaining to everyone, especially children who experience science all around them in the form of sound waves, momentum, the five senses, and more – and are curious as to what it all means. During this opportunity, you will aid the POST staff with Italian-to-English translation as well as the day-to-day organization of interactive exhibits and school field trips. Past Umbra students have created educational videos on a topic of their choosing, which are then shown during school field trips.
Umbra Student Guidebook
Upon arrival in Perugia, Umbra students are given a copy of The Umbra Institute’s Student Guidebook. Started in 2005, this guidebook 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 how you can get involved!
GoGlobal English Language School
The Umbra Institute also works in cooperation with GoGlobal, an English-language school near Perugia started by Boston native Marc Di Martino. Go Global offers a cultural approach to linguistic education that encompasses casual conversation, business communication, and children’s instruction. You will be able to volunteer as teaching assistants and classroom helpers in English classes for adults and children.
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.