ACROSS THE GLOBE
Chris Williams, who lives at our Connelly House residence, joined other members of the Project HOME community in a trip to Rome last December for an international symposium , the Institute for Global Homelessness on Street Homelessness and Catholic Social Teaching. Chris travelled along with Executive Director Sister Mary Scullion, Director of Residential Services Carol Thomas, and Board of Trustee member Lori Lasher. Chris participated in a panel discussion, sharing his experiences and reflections. Here, Chris shares his reflections on the trip.
Surreal, mesmerizing and meaningful. Those are just a few of the words I can use to describe my trip to Rome.
The flight from Philadelphia, which lasted more than seven hours, left me ample time to think. I wondered how well Rome would receive us. I also thought, how nice it would be to speak, or at least understand, Italian beyond a few basic words.
I didn’t concern myself much about those matters. Instead, I thought of how much of a blessing it was to take the mission of Project HOME abroad in the company of such compassionate travel companions. Certainly, we would enjoy the sights of such a historic culturally rich and artful place. Over the week we visited the Vatican and a few of Rome's museums. From statues to fountains to courtyard, from the extraordinary architecture to rich paintings, every artistic treasure I saw was impressive.
Legendary artists indeed left us viewers with vast majestic tell-tale works for our amazement. Touring a Roman colosseum was wondrous. Listening to our tour guide explain the details of a fighter’s life and how spectators would vote to either kill or spare their lives was thought-provoking, making me think of the inhumane things people do for the sake of entertainment.
Italian food could stop or start a fight. Every dish I tried was delicious. Plus, dining with compassionate guests seems to improve the taste of any meal. One evening, Sister Mary invited her fellow Sisters of Mercy to dinner. They were warm-spirited, welcoming women who offered insight about their call to service, which personally inspired me and left a lasting positive impression about human selflessness and compassion for others.
Attending The Institute for Global Homelessness conference was extremely meaningful. Being there increased my awareness about factors that cause homelessness. Hearing people from other parts of the world was eye-opening. One point I took from that meeting is that although homelessness is a serious problem, often people decide to implement sensible strategies and see that everyone can play a small part, such as choosing to treat people with consideration and decency as well as withhold their prejudices. When that happens, the big issue of homelessness can be addressed and even solved.
Having a chance to share my story with an international group, seated alongside Sister Mary, was more comfortable than nerve-wrecking. She had encouraged me to simply “tell my story” – and I did just that, similar to how I did at Inspirational Meeting and Speakers Bureau trainings. Also, I Secondly, I found comfort in hearing the intelligent and sensible insights Carol Thomas offered the group.
I feel extremely grateful for having had the chance to explore Rome in the company of caring people who demonstrate leadership and continue to take action. As I traveled, I carried the Project HOME community within my spirit. I'm pleased to be part of a loving community that spreads hope and encourages people to discover their talents and potential. Project HOME makes a difference both locally and across the world. Let us all continue to do meaningful work.