Volunteering Abroad: Meet Student Lily Serber

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Lily Serber studied abroad at JCU in Spring 2023. Lily will be graduating American University in Washington, D.C., in May with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. In the fall, she will attend graduate school at Teachers College at Columbia University and pursue a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. While at JCU, Lily was active with the Italy Reads program, and volunteered as mentor to Italian high school students.

Lily Serber
Lily Serber

What made you decide to study abroad at JCU?
I have always wanted to study abroad in Italy, especially in Rome. When I met with an advisor abroad at American University to discuss my plans for an ideal destination abroad, it corresponded with the values of JCU. I wanted to attend a university in Rome that is committed to community service efforts and has strong academics. I am glad I chose JCU and felt so welcomed in the community.

How did you get involved with the Italy Reads program?
I created an independent study with my academic advisor at American University. The independent study was called Service Learning Abroad. As an education major, I wanted the chance to mentor Italian students while studying abroad, and through the Italy Reads program, I was able to turn this goal into a reality. It was such a rewarding experience being part of the Italy Reads program during my semester abroad at JCU.

How did studying abroad at JCU enrich you? What’s your fondest memory of your time at JCU?
Volunteering abroad has many benefits, and I have met many great people while learning about different cultures and new perspectives. In addition, through volunteering abroad, I found a community I enjoy surrounding myself with. I have found a sense of community at John Cabot by being a part of Italy Reads and the Community Service program, and it has been so lovely meeting new people from around the world. This experiential learning and being able to volunteer in another country is something that I will always remember.

What advice would you give to students who are considering studying abroad?
Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. My semester studying abroad at JCU was one of my favorite semesters of college. Being able to immerse myself in the Italian culture and meeting people from all around the world impacted my time as I got the chance to make unforgettable memories. Friends that you make abroad are lifelong friends. These are the friends with whom you make some of the greatest memories and whom you will look back on and appreciate every single day. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to study abroad at John Cabot and the opportunities along the way.