Lay Centre provides support, 'family' for summer research student

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Lay Centre provides support, 'family' for summer research student

By Mayeesha Galiba

ROME — As my time in Rome is coming to a close, I can’t help but reflect on what brought me here, and where this summer has taken me. I’m going into my fourth year of my undergraduate career at Georgetown University, studying Government and Justice & Peace Studies. 

I was awarded the Education and Social Justice Grant from Georgetown, which allowed me to partner with a Jesuit institution anywhere in the world and conduct a qualitative research study on the intersections of education and social justice. 

I was lucky to work with the people at the Centre for Child Protection, an affiliate of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, that focuses on producing educational materials for the safeguarding of minors, particularly as it relates to sexual assault and abuse, and with an emphasis on abuse by clergy.

My faculty advisor found a place for me to stay in Rome, The Lay Centre. Though the centre was not part of my research, it gave me a strong community to return to every day, even when the research got heavy. 

The family that I met at The Lay Centre helped me to combat the fatigue and homesickness that comes with being abroad and that was starting to weigh on me. 

I could never have imagined living above a monastery on beautiful grounds that overlook the Colosseum, which is where The Lay Centre is located. How many people get to say they’ve done that in their lives? After dinner, I would go out onto the rooftop terrace and watch the sunset while reading a book. It was a great space for reflection. 

Lunch was an opportunity to meet so many interesting people. From ambassadors to priests and everyone in-between, I met people that engaged with me in interesting dialogue and I learned so much. I met people who also live in Washington, D.C., and who said they wanted to stay in touch, which I appreciated. 

We ate meals together, we laughed together, we helped each other out. I felt supported at The Lay Centre. I’m going to miss it, and I’m going to miss the people. 

By some stroke of luck, I met a soul sister here that happens to have a mutual friend with me, as well as a mutual love for One Direction. I’m going to miss our gelato walks, and I’m going to miss laughing with Heather and chastising Vittorio about not eating lunch. Both Heather and Vittorio are part of The Lay Centre’s office staff.

If you’re in Rome for a short time like me or for a longer period of time, like some of the other residents, The Lay Centre is a place of community and warmth. Plus, the cooks, Sandro and Laura, make the best potatoes in the world!

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