2013 was a big year for junior, Elli Fields—a May Term experience in Romania, a summer in Italy, and a semester in D.C., with the Lutheran Washington Semester program. And while Roanoke College helped Elli connect to the world for her May Term travel and semester in D.C., Italy was a different story.
WWOOF, also known as World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is a program that offers both domestic and international opportunities to those interested in gaining experience in agriculture. The responsibilities of participants differ by farm, but it is the unique experience, which brings individuals together, brining greater objectives to the program. WWOOFers are not paid, but are given three free meals a day and free living conditions.
Elli shared what a typical day on her host farm in Italy involved:
“I would get up at around 7:30am and help the other WWOOFer clean the pool and sweep the pool area. Then I would either go to the vineyard, the garden, or the olive grove. In the vineyard I would wrap grape vines back into the iron fence. In the olive grove, I would pick up all the dead branches on the ground and put them into big piles, which were burned. In the garden I would pull weeds and tend to the plants. Most the time I would just sit and eat all the strawberries and beans! I was supposed to work 6 hours on the weekdays, on Saturdays I worked for 3 hours, and on Sundays I had the day off. Lunch was served up in the owner’s house and would last about an hour or two. After lunch I would finish working and then relax.”
If Elli was lucky and had nice weather, some days she would read by the pool, go into the local towns for a few hours, or go for a nice swim. However one of the benefits of the program was that on her days off, Elli had the chance to travel around Italy.
When I asked Elli if she would recommend this experience to other students, her answer was a definite yes. Her experience in Italy was a completely different experience from the classroom environment at Roanoke. She even adds that she would love to do it again! She learned how to make honey, wine and olive oil, all while meeting people from around the world. She tried new things and new foods, and even (reluctantly) accepted the idea of hitch hiking to a nearby town.
So how did Elli get involved? Elli credits her International Relations major for her success in WWOOF. Her major sparked her interest in other countries and cultures. Her curiosity, hard work, support from her family, and the bounty of information on the World Wide Web were the other important ingredients that made her Italian adventure possible!