The eyes of wonder: Christmas markets with students

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January in Rome

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By Teresa Spinucci – Student Life Helper

You know when you’ve had something right under your nose your whole life, and you only realize its beauty when provided with a new perspective? After 23 years, thanks to the students of CIEE, I finally do. 
First of all, allow me to introduce myself, my name is Teresa, I’m 23, born and raised in Rome, and I am a Student Life Helper for CIEE. All my life I’ve taken for granted the fact that I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, a stone’s throw away from the Colosseum, the Roman Forums and the Trevi Fountain.
I was surrounded by history, but I didn’t find it stimulating at all. I had been walking through my hometown without a shadow of wonder, emotion, or curiosity about the various sites I saw daily. At this point, you may be wondering what the revolutionary factor in my life was.
That revolutionary factor was my work at CIEE, especially the constant interaction with the students. Thanks to the precious time spent with them, wandering the streets of Rome together, visiting museums, restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets, I learned something very important: I learned how wonderful it is to look at the world with the eyes of wonder. In fact, together with them, day after day, it’s as if I’ve relived Rome with the eyes of someone who has never seen it.

For example, spending a Wednesday afternoon with students walking through the Christmas markets in Piazza Navona.
The Christmas market in Piazza Navona is the most traditional Christmas market in Rome. It is located in the historic center of the city where the Stadium of Domitian once stood. For just over a month, the square turns into a spectacular Christmas market that seems to have come out of a fairy tale. In addition to the beautiful stalls that decorate this square, in Piazza Navona there are other attractions such as a vintage carousel, a Christmas tree and even an event with Santa Claus (Babbo Natale in Italian!). So, when we arrived at the square yesterday, it was exciting to see their reactions in front of that light show. Full of curiosity and joy, they went from one stand to another, they admired the Christmas Tree and decorations: every detail was noticed! Once again, their mere presence has changed my perception of the outside world and I am grateful for that.