by Samantha Lin
ROME — Eleven Hebrew University students participated in The Lay Centre’s “Buongiorno Roma” program last month. The students, many of whom are majoring in Italian or linguistics, engaged in 80 formal hours of Italian class — just the beginning of their introduction to Italian language and culture.
Throughout the month, students had the opportunity for cultural visits, and many went to the Museo Borghese and the Case Romane, close to The Lay Centre. One of their major highlights was the guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, by Maria Cristina Carlo-Stella, the head of the Vatican fabrique. She explained the development of St. Peter’s and made two special stops for the group.
The first stop was at the tomb of Pope Innocent VIII, who engaged in diplomacy with the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II — an early example of interreligious dialogue for our interreligious group. The second stop was inside the chapel of Michelangelo’s Pietà. The group sat on the ground in stunned silence as our guide described the process of creating the work.
The students said they enjoyed their classes, given by two teachers from the Centro Studi Cassia. Others expressed their appreciation for The Lay Centre.
“The program honestly has changed my life,” said Mais. “All the love I had at The Lay Centre cannot be described in sentences. It is that unconditional love that is really hard to find nowadays.”
Nadine said The Lay Centre “felt like a family, which triggered me to behave as I am at home and not as a guest.” She expressed her gratitude for the “unforgettable experience… filled with unforgettable people.”
The Lay Centre looks forward to welcoming new students from Hebrew University next September for the same program.