“I had been living abroad for years”

Tiziana Uliano, 24, Campobasso (Italy)

Right now I was supposed to be volunteering in Panama. Instead, I am back home in Campobasso, Italy, with my family.

I lived abroad for the past few years. In January, I started my civil service and went through two months of training in Rome. I was supposed to leave for Panama on March 16 with the Italian Red Cross, so in early March I went back home to pack. I never left again because of the coronavirus outbreak.

In Panama, we members of the Italian Red Cross were supposed to help out our local colleagues with various humanitarian projects, such as raising awareness on sexually transmitted diseases. I was also going to seize this opportunity to research for my dissertation for my master’s degree in humanitarian assistance. The idea was to analyze how people in Panama perceive and try to reduce risks related to natural disasters, such as floods. It would have been great to conduct on-the-field interviews, but because of coronavirus I had to give up on this.

Tiziana during her semester in Thailand.

I am currently in a limbo. The Red Cross had to suspend all its projects and said they’ll re-evaluate by July. They’ll have to decide whether I can still go to Panama or if if it’s best to come up with a different program.

In the meantime, I have tried to seize this critical moment as an opportunity, so I am now writing my dissertation on how climate change affects NGOs’ responses to natural disasters. I am not worried about writing my dissertation from home, although it’s been more difficult to be productive while quarantining. I just try to listen to myself: if I am not in the mood for working, I won’t force myself to do it.

I cannot wait to travel again. My master’s program has been incredibly stimulating. I spent the first semester in Malta, the second in Ireland and the third in Thailand. Even before then, I had been travelling and volunteering across the world, from Brazil to the United States. It’s been a privilege, so during my quarantine I launched a blog, Tizu.li, to share my experiences and useful tips. I hope this blog can help people discover new destinations. 

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