Italian Soup for the Soul

An alternative spring break

For many students, working in a soup kitchen isn’t high on their spring break wish list, but 80 Florida Tech students jumped at the chance to do something a little different with their vacation. To be fair, the soup kitchen is in Italy.

Of the 80 students that applied to participate in the “Alternative Spring Break” only 20 students were selected to hop the pond for an out of the ordinary spring break. Kaity Crook, business ’17, was one of the lucky few.

Kaity Crook
Kaity Crook, Business ’17

“I have always believed that if a person is in need of help and if you are in a position to help them with your time or money then you should,” said Crook.

Sponsored by the Office of Student Life, which helped pay the majority of trip costs, the opportunity was posted on the FIT email forum with a request for applications.

Crook eagerly filled out the application and in the essay portion, she described the opportunity as an experience of a lifetime that she would be very grateful for.

“I am majoring in global business so I hear all about these different cultures everyday throughout my classes and I would truly love to be immersed in Italy’s culture,” Crook wrote on her application.

Crook’s close friend Allison DePietro also applied and both waited anxiously to see if they got into the program. They received the news at the same time, hoping they would be going together.

“I was really funny, because we both applied for it and were both terrified that we weren’t going to get in, then when we came to tell each other, it was like alright, just say it, did you get in?”

Thankfully DePietro did get in and before the trip, her Crook and the 20 other Florida Tech students that were accepted helped organize a GoFundMe campaign and yard sale to help cover the remaining trip costs.

For less than a price of a flight to Europe, Crook was able to fulfil a dream of visiting Italy, immersing herself in a completely new culture and creating life-long friendships.

Once spring break came, Crook spent 10 days touring Italy and volunteering. They volunteered at a soup kitchen and after a long day serving those in need, Crook was surprised to learn how differently Italians run their soup kitchens.

“The soup kitchens are very different from here. The Italian government issues ID cards to the diners who have to sign in everyday before they get their food.”

Expecting to serve mostly Italian citizens at the soup kitchen, Crook was surprised to learn that the majority of those she served hailed from several different African nations.

Crook and her group also spent time at a children’s hospital, learning how Italians care for pediatric patients. After volunteering, the group was able to see famous landmarks in Rome and the surrounding areas including the Colosseum, Tower of Pisa and lots of churches.

“The culture was so different. The use of materials on their buildings was interesting, there was a lot of 24 karat gold on the ceilings.”

After an amazing experience together, it’s no surprise that Crook formed a tight bond with her fellow spring breakers, many of which she didn’t know prior to their experience together.

“It was one of those things that I will always look back on and remember how fantastic it was. These are the memories you dream of making in college. The amount of culture we experienced in ten days was more than you could attempt to learn in a semester long class.”

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