July 2012

From the Museum of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum: the report of Giuseppe, a volunteer in Jerusalem

Having reached their third month in the Holy Land, the Italian youths carrying out a year of Civil Service through an agreement between ATS pro Terra Sancta and the University of Bari recount their experiences, the activities they have been carrying out, and their impressions of life in Jerusalem.

Here is the account of Giuseppe, who is working full time in the Museum of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, dividing his time between cataloguing discoveries and welcoming visitors.

“The work activities that I have been carrying out since I arrived have been closely related to my course of studies: I have had the good fortune to work at the Museum of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum under the guidance of Father Eugenio Alliato, who is both a friar and archaeologist, and an expert in Israeli antiquities, a generous and kind person, studious (hard to find) and not at all possessive about what he knows, but on the contrary always available to share it with everyone.

Since March I have been working on cataloguing and on the preliminary study of the Byzantine oil lamps collected by Father Stanislao Loffreda, a friar archaeologist with the Custody of the Holy Land. The oil lamps are a new type of material for me, which I have come across only a few times in Italy, and I have been almost overwhelmed by the rich bibliography available on the subject. These months they have been teaching me this: never give up before trying! The study on the oil lamps is in fact going quite well, and even though I cannot call myself a great expert in the field, the knowledge I have acquired in this area is now part of my overall cultural “baggage” and will certainly aid me in the future, whether it be in fieldwork or laboratory studies.

Welcoming visitors to the museum has also been a very interesting experience for me, and a completely new one. It has given me the opportunity to practice my English, to deal with and get to know many people, and also to put in practice the rules and “tricks” my professor of Economics of Cultural Heritage taught me for improving the management of museums, by always seeking to stimulate visitors so that they depart with a good memory of their visit, and thus become themselves a source of positive publicity for the museum.

From the point of view of personal relationships, of new friends that I have met in Jerusalem, I couldn’t be more satisfied: stimulating people, both different and more or less like me, thanks to whom and with whom I can grow, sharing months, days, or even an entire year, as the case may be.

In addition, in this account of my first months in Israel I can’t leave out the activities I have been carrying out with both the Studium Biblicum and the Dante Alighieri Society in Jerusalem.

At the Studium Biblicum along with David, another volunteer in Civilian Service, I have been well received by everyone, and we have been allowed to enroll in several courses as auditors and to participate in an unending series of educational visits, excursions and other initiatives. I can truly say, with the greatest sincerity, that at the Studium Biblicum I have found a new family, made up of so many fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters with whom I have enjoyably spent a large part of my time. Without them, I am sure that this experience in Israel, interesting and beautiful though it might have been, would have been only a very “partial” experience for me.

In addition, as I had hoped, I have had the good fortune to meet Alisa Varadi, the director of the Dante Alighieri Society in Jerusalem who, showing confidence and affection, invited me to participate in initiatives organized by her Society and has helped me to meet many new Israeli friends. In light of everything I have said, I only hope that the coming months will pass in the same way, or why not, even better!”

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