New grad volunteers to build community, understanding

Veronica Picchi in Jordan

UIC graduate Veronica Picchi, center, works at a Habitat for Humanity construction site in Amman, Jordan.

One week in Amman, Jordan, proved to UIC graduate Veronica Picchi that she has what it takes to serve communities around the world.

Picchi volunteered with Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village initiative in July after her graduation from UIC in May.

“My experience was awesome,” Picchi said.

She and her team awoke at 5 a.m. to the sounds of the call to prayer. They carpooled to the construction site where her assigned tasks included mixing concrete and making and aligning bricks.

For lunch and dinner the team visited local homes. “The warmness I felt from people was genuine,” Picchi said. “We couldn’t have a full-fledged conversation but people would go out of their way to make sure you were comfortable, safe and happy.”

Picchi and her team learned about their hosts’ culture and religion. On off hours, they drank tea with locals, trekked Amman’s hillsides and slept on rooftops.

Her UIC experiences cultivated Picchi’s interest in nonprofit work. Coursework for her bachelor’s in political science and minor in international studies equipped her with knowledge about how the world works.

“I was encouraged to research and create my own political theories, rethinking how we can make the world a better place,” she said.

Her undergraduate research on conflicts in the Middle East exposed her to issues and viewpoints in the international community. “Everything would be so much different if we all tried to understand each other,” she said.


Veronica Picchi in Jordan

Habitat for Humanity volunteers share a meal with local hosts. “The warmness was genuine,” Picchi says.

Picchi said she volunteered for the project because she wants to have a role in bridging this gap. “I wanted to be active, hands-on in another community, building relationships and understanding other parts of the world,” she said.

Through a philanthropy project for her sorority, Alpha Sigma Tau, Picchi discovered Habitat for Humanity.

“Often we forget about how similar we are,” Picchi said about her Habitat for Humanity work. “Stripping away our selves and getting back to being with people allows for us to bring about sustainable changes.”

Picchi hopes to help out in other international communities. She plans to attend graduate school and focus on international community development.

“Right now I am doing a freelance research project and working on a Peace Corps application,” she said.

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