Let me ask you a question: what’s in a name? Personally, I’ve always looked at names as a way to refer to a specific person. Some may think there’s more power to a name. Whatever the case, it’s always true that names come from somewhere.
With that in mind, I will raise you a name: ASD Tennistavolo Senigallia (Don’t worry, no one decided to name their child that… As far as I know, anyway). As far as names go, this one is about as straightforward as it gets: a table tennis centre situated in a small Italian town called Senigallia. To some, this is a place to either train, or compete, often both. To others, this is a place to meet friends and have fun over a common hobby. To me, this is the organization, that decided to accept me as an international volunteer, and gave me the opportunity to live abroad for about a year. But most importantly, to everyone, this is a place to spend time doing something they enjoy.
But there’s only so much info in a name. Sure, you can tell, what this organization called “ASD Tennistavolo Senigallia” is, but what it does is a whole different subject. It’s one thing to be a big room full of tables with nets. It’s a whole other thing, to actually be a part of a community, and despite my limited comprehension of the Italian language, I can already tell, that this place is an important part of what makes Senigallia into what it is.
We’ve established, that just by reading the name, there’s no real way of telling exactly, what this organization does. I, however, have no intention of writing out my schedule in detail as a volunteer, just like you have no real interest in reading it. Instead I’ll say (write!) this: children. As tempted as I am to just leave it at that, I feel like I should elaborate: a lot of thought has been put into making this organization as child-friendly as possible. Most notably, ASD Tennistavolo Senigallia has no sponsors. Also, a lot has been done to reach out to children: There are training classes for children of different ages, additionally, schools come in semi-regularly, to have a lesson or two here. There are training classes for adults as well, and different championships taking place every now and then.
“But writer, do table tennis lessons really mean, that the organization is a part of the community?” I hear no-one ask. Well, you have a point, but that’s not all this organization does. I’m reminded of Christmas. There was a Christmas dinner where about 50-60 people were present, including yours truly. Even the mayor of this quaint little town thought it prudent to pay us a visit during the dinner, and say a few words, of which I understood maybe two. After the dinner everyone played Tombola (essentially bingo), as is customary in Italy. Though I feel like I should add that the table tennis dinner didn’t take place on the actual Christmas Day, but about a week before. That little story, and the fact that they employ Italian volunteers as well as international ones are the best examples, of why ASD Tennistavolo Senigallia is a very active part of its community.
Is it very weird to have an introduction as a conclusion? Eh, not like I have much else worth mentioning right now. So, hi there, my name is Oskar. I’m a 20 year-old Estonian living in Italy as a volunteer. And since this whole article has been strangely fixated on names I will leave you with a quote: “Names, once they are in common use, quickly become mere sounds, their etymology being buried, like so many of the earth’s marvels, beneath the dust of habit.” – Salman Rushdie