An American in Venice: Virginia Guerra ’19
My Italian and International Relations double major has been extremely useful in my life, personally and professionally. After graduating from Mount Holyoke in May 2019, I worked as a Diplomacy Leader for Student Diplomacy Corps, a non-profit organization that allows high school students to obtain different experiential learning experiences abroad. I led eleven high school students that were matched to the Venetian Empire Program, which allows students to study architecture, food culture, and geographical vastness of the Venetian Empire. I served as their Italian teacher and translator, their mentor, and their leader as we traveled through Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia. The growth that I was able to obtain as a leader was incredible. Being the sole individual responsible for these students abroad showed me my true strength personally, as well as my ability to guide the students through their journey abroad, while we traveled and while they learned Italian.
After I completed this assignment, I began my full-time job as a Guest Service Agent for MSC Cruises. I decided to work for this cruise line in particular because I knew that it would allow me to continue to travel and explore the world, would allow me to gain professional skills in a fast-paced working environment, and it would allow me to use all of the languages that I speak on a daily basis. My ability to speak Italian enabled me to be more personable with a large part of our clientele and it allowed me to help more people, which to me was the most impactful and important part of my job. I will never forget one occasion when an elderly Italian lady lost her husband, who had dementia, onboard the ship. She came to me immediately to seek assistance because she knew that I was one of the only agents that spoke Italian. I was able to help her calm down and, in the end, I helped her find her husband. She and her husband that night came to the Guest Service Desk to give me a gift and to thank me for helping her. They came to me in tears of joy. I was just doing my job, but that was one of the moments in my life that made me realize that speaking Italian has become a part of me, one of my strengths, something that allows me to connect with more people.
My experiences studying Italian at Mount Holyoke, interning at Universita' Ca' Foscari, studying abroad at the Universita' di Bologna, and working as an Italian tutor have all added up to be unforgettable and priceless experiences in my life. These experiences have allowed me to take note of what is important to me, which is to learn more about our world through travel and to share these experiences with my family because they have not been able to have these experiences of their own. These chapters in my life have also taught me that I value the Italian language immensely and I will always want it to be a part of my life in some sort of way. Finally, through these experiences, I learned my true strength, what I am capable of, and what truly inspires me. I am looking forward to continuing to improve and use my Italian in my future career and studies. I hope to obtain my master's degree in Comparative International Relations at the Universita' Ca' Foscari. It is a dream of mine and I know that with the education that I have received at Mount Holyoke and the experiences that I was able to have through the Italian department, it will be possible.