Yesterday found the “Cultural Explorations in Italy” study group visiting our final school. My highlight was in a fourth grade classroom a boy, who was reading Pinocchio, in a group of 10 other children with his teacher turned to me and very slowly and clearly said, “What is your name?” When I immediately held out my hand and said, “My name is Angela. What is your name?” His jaw dropped open and he clasped his hands over his mouth – so surprised that he really spoken well enough in English to get a response from me. The class laughed so hard and then the students who weren’t too shy also tried to engage in conversation. After our school visit, back at the convent, we had a farewell lunch and headed to the train station where we rode to Venice.
(PIC: Dr. Susan says "hello" to students) On the two hour train ride it was great to sit with my boss and have a chance to really talk in depth and at length. One of the things I tried to explain to the students one night at dinner is that in higher ed, you are more isolated. You do not see your colleagues every day, sometimes not for a week or so and you do not have time to socialize. Everyone is too busy and our schedules are so different. Having precious time spent with Dr. Susan and Dr. Nancy was truly the highlight of this trip for me. (The close second was visiting and learning in the schools. That was amazing too!) Nancy was so complimentary about my work and their decision to hire me and we are hoping to get an article submitted to a peer reviewed journal about some work we recently completed and how we think it will be very beneficial to our students. I also spoke to her about Christi – a lot, and I was glad she asked the really hard questions she did. “What was it like to watch your child suffer knowing she was going to die and you couldn’t prevent it?”, “Did you ever tell Christi she would die? What did she think?” etc., etc.
Arriving in Venice, I found it to be a most interesting city – truly one that is sinking and I believe dying. I learned that the population in 1960 was 300,000 and now it is down to 60,000. There were vacant buildings everywhere, so sad and yet when the ground floors are completely under water already and the streets drains are backed up, it’s quite understandable.
(PIC: Our charming hotel in Lido (Venice, or close enough) Upon our arrival, we kicked back at our charming hotel in Lido for a bit and then I went with one of the students via boat back into Venice since my time there would be so short and I wanted to squeeze in as much as I could. We strolled the many winding streets and then, stumbling upon the other BG students who headed over to Venice, I had to pretend I was “mom” to one of our students who was being hit on by a street vendor. She was most thankful for my “rescue” as I quickly sized up the situation and saw what was happening.
Dinner in St. Mark's square with live music outside was amazing! I kept wishing Shayne were with me and how I would love to bring him to that incredibly romantic city!
We ended the night with our whole group, and one more who arrived from BG, taking a fabulous gondola ride on the grand canal. Our driver / rower did freak us out a bit when he took a call on his cell phone and started talking. They really have to bend low to get under the bridges and he was chatting away.
We decided it would be ok for him to chat on his cell, but if he started texting and asked one of us to row that was where we would draw the line (hee hee). We also saw Marco Polo's home and he said they do not play "Marco Polo" in Italy, yet every American tourist has to explain the game to him. Too funny!
This morning I tried (tried) NOT to say emotional “goodbyes” to the group, telling them, "I don’t like goodbyes so I’ll just say, See ya on campus! Some of us have to start teaching summer school on Monday and can’t spend another leisure week in Italy, ya know. I’ll have the bulletin board done about our School Study Program before you even leave to come back.” Well, they didn’t let me get away with that. (tears, tears) I wish them well as they continue on to a few more cities! They were all incredibly awesome travel partners!
I caught my flight to Amsterdam and today enjoyed my private driver who narrated for me all of the places I “needed” to see in Amsterdam and who then escorted me right to the door of the Anne Frank House which was really the reason for this 18 hour layover I’m taking in Amsterdam before returning home tomorrow.
As an 8th grade teacher I read “The Diary of Anne Frank” with my students and as a result I really wanted to go through the home where she hid for 25 months. It was very moving. Shayne promised me I’d love it and I did. Very sad, yet I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to go and actually put my own eyes on her diary and to see her room, the bookcase, etc., etc.
Thanks for letting me share my journey with you! Life is going to be quite dull for a while after this – oh, I know Shayla will keep it hopping. Thank God for Shayla! I miss her so much!