This week four young Italians will be completing their year of Civilian Service, during which time they have each been involved, in different manners, in the projects of ATS pro Terra Sancta, as a result of an agreement with the University of Bari. They have made use of their individual skills and knowledge, but above all they have learned so much, and they are returning to their homes enriched by a experience unique in both human and professional terms.
Here is the account of Giuseppe Schiavariello, who has been working at the Archaeological Museum of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum as part of the project “Telling the Story of the Holy Land”.
“Whoever goes to Jerusalem cries two times: on arrival and on departure. This adaptation of the celebrated phrase from the Italian film “Benvenuti al Sud” (Welcome to the South) serves to provide a very concise summary of a year of civilian service in Israel. I departed for Israel with great joy, knowing that during my months in the Holy Land I would experience beautiful and new experiences, but I couldn’t disguise the great fear I had with respect to this journey: a new home, new people – “strangers” – with whom I would have to live for many months… Would I manage? Would everything be all right? Would there be problems, conflicts?
The months then passed between highs and lows, from hot to cold, before finishing with snow! And without my noticing it the date for my return to Italy had arrived, a definitive return that brought with it many tears, an immense displeasure linked to the fact that I had to leave these places and these friends. They were intense months, which are difficult to summarize and describe in a few lines: the emotions and experiences undergone, the teachings received, and the many new thoughts that matured will always be part of me, they will be a beautiful memory left to me by the Holy Land and will represent a firm point from which to start again now, on my return to Italy.
The images of the places, the warmth of the persons I met, the faces of the friends who succeeded one another during the months spent in Israel, will accompany me forever and will undoubtedly provide a pleasant memory during the moments in which I will be overcome by nostalgia for these places and individuals. I hope one day to be able to return to Jerusalem and again experience, together with the friends I met, further exciting adventures.”