From passion to action. How Veronica Corbellini channels her love to work
I’m not sure if you’d be with your family these coming holidays, but I want to share with you the spirit of this season,” she said as I gazed at the chocolate cake pop coated with silver candies, a perfect resemblance of Christmas in winter. I looked at her, speechless and in awe, and witnessed pure joy in her eyes.
Veronica’s tenderness speaks through her actions and words, and this is not a surprise at all, not when she has grown fond of children. Her love for them brings her on a mission to understand the nature of their growth and development. It was one of the reasons she pursued Developmental Psychology at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore for her Master’s degree. “If you want to make a difference, you have to start from the roots,” shared Veronica. “I focus my field of expertise on children from this philosophy. If I want to create the best possible environment for them where they could prosper for a long period of time, I have to start understanding the early phases of their lives.”
The sense of desire to further her studies provoked Veronica to explore her options abroad. Through the international programs of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, she found a calling outside her solid ground and set on a journey which would expose her to new cultures and crowds.
Her first stop was the University of California, Los Angeles. For three months, she continued her studies on psychology, digesting theories about children and maternal relationships, but all the while, she felt the desire to do more. “I felt like something was missing, but then I found out what it was,” said Veronica. “I had a friend in Bolivia doing a volunteering project with children the same time I was in UCLA. When we came back to Italy, she shared her experience with me and I was beyond amazed. I told myself, ‘I wanted that. I wanted an experience like that.’”
Veronica clasped her hands together and beamed at me. Her adventurous spirit gleamed as she revealed how she wanted to feel a new environment far from that of her upbringing. “That’s what I want to do: to volunteer. I had no idea when or how, but I knew I wanted to do it. The following year, I applied for a volunteering project. After receiving my ‘go’ signal, I packed my bags and went to India.”
While in India, she witnessed the high hopes in children’s eyes, contrasting with the underlying background of limited resources and unfavorable lifestyle they live. She immersed herself in a one-month long volunteering program with children at orphanages. She quickly fell into a routine working five days a week at two different orphanages, of which one was for HIV infected children.
A flash of longing sparked in Veronica’s features as she recalled the modest home of the children. I watched as her pride unraveled with how she helped them clean the house, prepared the food, took them to the park, taught them English, and played with them. “It was an eye-opening experience,” she said. “Despite their lifestyle, they live every day with a smile on their face. They give you all that they have, even if they almost have nothing. On our last day, my co-volunteers and I brought our things to the orphanage, shared with and gave them to the children as a gift. It wasn’t easy to leave the place now that I’d gotten used to it, but I knew I would be back.”
Right after Veronica returned from her international volunteering experience in India, she flew to New York to join the NGO “Catholic Medical Mission Board” for her four–months internship program. She devoted her time to organizational projects on maternal and child depression, studies on intervention on children’s development, and increasing the motivation of health workers for a productive workplace. “It was an amazing experience,” shared Veronica as she held her smile. “The continuous exposure to find solutions to help the children of underdeveloped countries inspired me to always do my best to contribute and to make the children’s lives easier. I knew then it was the path I wanted to take in the future.”
In spite of the thriving episodes of Veronica, her shortcomings took form during the first days of her New York journey. “In the first few weeks, I had a hard time. I’d had expectations of what I would do. When I got there, I was not able to figure out everything. It was tough and I felt lost,” she shared. “Then, I realized how time had its ways, how I had all the means. Eventually, I settled with ease, but not without my own persistence. I started the conversations. I asked around. I became curious and always initiated the first step. I braved through it all. In the end, I achieved wonderful results.”
When I asked her about her future destinations to volunteer, Veronica sat upright and looked pleased as she said, “Peru and Kenya.” The timeframe is uncertain, but she knows for sure she will get to these two countries. “For now, I have to finish my practicum in children neuropsychiatry at Policlinico di Milano and aim to take part in the national board exam to become a full-fledged, licensed psychologist by this summer,” shared Veronica.
A strong yet empathic individual: a description Veronica owns through the collective international experiences she has garnered. She learned how to continuously challenge herself and take risks in an environment where she had to fend for herself. “When you go abroad, not just to travel, but for a specific purpose, you grow up,” she said. “You learn new things and you get a new perspective on life. You take it all in and it becomes a part of you.”
Article featured on Worldbound, edition n.1-2019.