An unofficial delegation of 10 Red Crossers from the Greater New York region participated in these emotional few days of friendship, history and learning that ended with a signature event called the Fiaccolata, a torchlight processional from Solferino to Castiglione delle Stiviere. Unity and joy were the main feelings they experienced.
Vivian Moy, Red Cross volunteer from Long Island, took a leading role organizing this self-funded trip and gathering as many volunteers as possible across the United States. She created a website and a Facebook page to spread the word about it.
“I felt it was important to have a strong American presence in Solferino this year because in 2019 the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) was celebrating their centennial and the United States is one of the five founding national societies, along with UK, Japan, Italy and France,” Vivian said.
She also recalls that this gathering “it’s not only a celebration, it’s almost like a pilgrimage and a personal recommitment to the Red Cross mission”.
We asked the New York attendees about their most memorable moment in Solferino and this is what they answered:
Port Washington, New York
|Vivian Moy (left) and volunteer Joe Spaccarelli (right)
New York, New York
“It was the Fiaccolata that sealed the deal for me. I walk slower than most of my Greater New York team, so I had the opportunity to walk with folks from Italy, Israel, England, Germany, Pakistan and Romania amongst others. Ten kilometers gives one lots of opportunities; sang Italian songs, ate candy from Germany, chatted with a lovely woman from Pakistan how she got there (her country paid for two representatives to attend.) I also got to walk and talk with one of the descendants of Henri Dunant. As we walked we were cheered on by many of the local residents. Following the actions of another ARC team member, I started giving out my last few pins to the children who were standing on the sides of the road. Such small items yielded such big smiles, just amazing. They spoke no English, I spoke no Italian, but we were able to communicate. It truly lived up to the phrase One Red Cross.”
Director of Development, Individual Philanthropy and Foundation Partnerships
Brooklyn, New York
|Vivian Moy and Erika Byrnes (right) at the Fiaccolata
Mount Sinai, New York
“Solferino is a moment to be experienced. It carries you. It pushes you past beliefs and renews hope. It reminds us that we are one Red Cross and that our work around the world holds the promise that together, and only together, can we can be successful when we walk shoulder to shoulder.”
Westtown, New York
|Katie Constable (right) sharing with fellow Red Crossers
New York, New York
“My most important experience was staying at a villa. It was in the middle of a wine country and in the backyard, it had this great vineyard. It was really interesting because they made it's own wine and cheese. I wanted to see Italy in its original form not in the modern-day hotels. Then I found out it was one of the homes that Henry Dunant stayed at when he was making his tour during the battle. It was really cool because there were other Red Crossers there. The house was well kept but it had that original feel. I met someone from Greece and people who came in from other parts of Italy, but I was the only there from the American Red Cross.”