Elia Gandolfi: L.A.C.E.S. Refugee Program Intern

We are excited to introduce Elia Gandolfi, L.A.C.E.S. new Refugee Program Intern. He graduated in March 2016 from Bologna University, Italy, earning a Master’s Degree in International Relations.  Elia joined our team in June 2016 to help launch L.A.C.E.S. first ever Refugee Youth Soccer Camp.

Tell us about your international experience.
When I was 18, I went to Brazil for three months to join Partlihar, an NGO that helps orphans and street children in a small rural community. That experience literally changed my life, and I decided to get a Master’s in International Relations. Since then, I have collaborated with several NGOs both in Brazil and Italy that specifically work with children, homelessness and those suffering from drug addictions. In April 2016, as soon as I graduated I went to Greece to help with the current refugee crisis. I spent almost two months working in refugee camps helping manage children’s sports and gardening programs, and running a camp kitchen in a huge informal refugee camp. Anyone who lives in a camp for at least one day will never look at the refugee crisis in the same way again.

What made you apply for L.A.C.E.S. internship?
The experience in Greece made me decide to commit to refugee issues and I decided to look for an internship in this field. At the same time, I was also looking for something innovative, which could also stimulate my personal interests. As soon as I found L.A.C.E.S. job posting, I decided to apply right away. I am a great soccer fan and I strongly believe in sports power in promoting integration and solidarity. L.A.C.E.S. commitment both in Liberia and the U.S. clearly embodies this idea.

What do you aim to acquire through this experience?
I think the responsibility of launching and managing the Refugee Youth Soccer Program will deeply improve my personal organizational and administrative skills. Those are qualities you need to develop if you want to work in the International Development field. Moreover, I think the soccer camp will be a great opportunity to facilitate social integration for the refugee children of the D.C. metro area and of course I really want to have a lot of fun!

What is your first impression about living in D.C.?
DC is great! A lot of parks, green areas, cool people, concerts, museums and so many things going on and unexpectedly, a lot of soccer! I will definitely enjoy my stay.

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