Two weeks ago, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake shook central Italy, killing hundreds of people and leveling whole sections of towns.
Such a news story warrants worldwide attention and concern, and for the University of Dallas, there was a particular worry regarding the safety of students studying abroad at UD’s Due Santi campus.
Fortunately, Rome and its surrounding areas were relatively unimpacted by the earthquake.
As for the fall Romers, they were busy getting settled into their semester.
“I think it is probably fair to say that the impact of this tragic event didn’t engage [students] all that much,” Dr. Peter Hatlie, director of the Rome campus said.
Anyone who has been to Rome knows how busy the first few weeks of the semester are; the Rome itinerary leaves no room for homesickness or jet lag.
The same principle, it seems, applied here: Students did not have time to be especially distraught over an earthquake happening nearby.
However, that does not mean they didn’t have time to help.
On Aug. 30, six days after the earthquake, the Rome campus held its “Amatri-chili” Fundraiser.
The title references the town of Amatrice, which was arguably the place most devastated by the earthquake.
The staff spent nearly all day cooking a variety of chilis in order to sell them to the students that night.
For five euro, each student received a bowl of chili and a glass of wine.
They could choose from seven different kinds of chili, including Resident Coordinator Mike Pitstick’s “amatri-chili,” which featured ingredients from the Italian dish amatriciana, a cuisine that originated in Amatrice.
That night, students gathered at the campus’s outdoor grill for the fundraiser.
“It was an awesome event, the students seemed to be really excited to be helping such a good cause — and they seemed to really enjoy the chili,” Resident Coordinator Keelin des Rosiers said.
While the exact number of students who attended was not tallied, the event allowed for the university to make a €500 donation — about $557 USD — to the Italian branch of Caritas.
This indicates that a great majority of the Rome campus’s 108 students attended the event.
Caritas, a Catholic organization, refers to itself as the helping arm of the Catholic Church.
In light of the earthquake, the Italian branch has created specialized services to provide short, medium and long-term aid to those in need.
UD’s funds will be used to aid these services.
The Rome campus is often called upon to prove its ability to be flexible in tight spots and influential despite its small size.
The fundraiser last week proved that the students possess both of these attributes, giving UD residents in both Rome and in Irving reason to be proud.
More importantly, it demonstrated UD’s continued commitment to service and charity.