Happy New Year from Rondine Citadel of Peace

by Maria Karapetyan

Every 8 minutes the train is arching over River Arno making a measure of our time. The same train that brought us here and will take us from here after a certain time. On the other side are the endless Tuscany fields with haystacks and grapevines that seem to be the setting of a film of the 1970’s.

Between Arno and the fields is squeezed the little Peaceville of Rondine. What brings us here? The hope of a good education, the thirst for the experience of Italy, the belief that the world is a wonderful place or the curiosity to check whether it’s so and, almost always, a personal reason.. one you have a hard time admitting to yourself, let alone writing about it in motivation letters.

After the first month, Italian slowly turns from foreground noise to the language of dialogue – questioning and being questioned, challenging and being challenged and after the sixth month, there is a whole new parlance of “testimonianza” of “coesistenza” and a whole new identity – one that teaches you to “confront with the other” and “stay in conflict” like fish would stay in water.

Rondine Cittadella della Pace is a medival village that was once completely deserted of its inhabitants and today is the host of the International Hall of Residence. Here is the second home of young people coming from nations torn by conflict and attesting that the most beautiful human friendships can be born through the hardest conversations and despite the axioms dictated by animosity and war.

Below is a video that the students of Rondine are sending to the readers of the Neutral Zone wishing for a peaceful 2014! Ode to the new year and new beginnings, once again!

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