Catherine Zaw, '15
A home for conversation
When I signed up to volunteer for a homeless women's shelter in the winter of 2013, I anticipated physical work moving mattresses and sleepless nights worrying about the safety of the shelter. What I didn't expect was the bonds I would form with some of the residents.
Annie had been a waitress in a traditional Italian restaurant before it was replaced by a fast food chain.
"I can name all the types of pasta," she told me. She drew pasta shapes on a scrap of napkin.
"The conchiglie is my favorite. It's like a conch shell. My grandmother used to make it all the time."
Annie taught me everything she knew after a lifetime working with pasta.
In turn, I told her about how the words macaroni, macaroon, and macaron have the same etymological heritage, but are completely different foods now. We traded knowledge and life experiences, and after a whole winter, I was sad to see our shelter time come to an end.
Annie wasn't the only woman with a story at the shelter. Each visitor came in with her own experience, and the lesson I took was that there is a story in everyone, everything—and that all of these stories are important.