Way too long

Trip Start Jan 03, 2011
Trip End Apr 30, 2011

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Dear Friends,

It's been way too long since I blogged!  I guess that's good and bad - good that I am busy and, therefore, the time passes quickly but bad because it is my way of keeping in touch and I do miss everyone so much.
We had a visit from Professor Maria Traub, from Neumann College.  She is the Italian professor of the 4 Neumann students who are part of our group.  She may come and teach here nect year.  We got together with her and Francesco Gardenghi.  He is a native Italian and he teaches Italian here.  The exciting thing is that he is coming to SBU for the fall semster!  He wants to improve his English and this gives us (Mike and I) a wonderful opportunity to continue with our study of Italian - with a genuine Italian professor of the language!

In any case, one of the people I miss the most is part of the reason we've been so busy - my dear Emily and her boyfriend Malcolm were here for a week and we really did and saw a lot.  We picked them up at the Rome Airport the Saturday before Easter Sunday.  It was rainy and cold.  They didn't much care because they were exhausted and jet-lagged.  But Easter Sunday was even worse.  It rained so hard that the street was almost flooded with puddling and it was difficult to get around.  We went to a very nice restaurant, but then found ourselves with nothing to do but hang out in our small apartment and watch movies.  It was fun, though, and a good way for Em and Malcolm to catch up on their sleep.
Starting Monday after Easter the weather steadily improved and we were on the run.  We had Monday off from classes.  We rented a car and we drove to some of the more interesting Umbrian hill towns: Bagnoregio, birthplace of St. Bonaventure and known as the city that is dying because of the erosion of the ground under the city.  There is a new, modern city at the bottom; then you cross a foot bridge to the ancient center that sits up there sort of like the cap of a mushroom.  We went to a restaurant that every summer hosts the St. Bonaventure Pilgrimage and there on the wall was a picture of Sister Margaret Carney!  After this we drove to Orvieto,  which has one of the top 3 most beautiful cathedrals in Italy.  It was the perfect time of day - the sun was low and slanting on the gold of the exteriror.  The sky was a deep blue. As if that were not enough, we entered the church and there was a symphony orchestra playing Beethoven's 1st.  This was one of the those moments where the sheer beauty of sight and sound brings tears to your eyes.  The next day we drove to Florence - big mistake.  If you ever have the chance to go to Florence - take the train!!  We survived the traffic jam, the driving into the center to find parking, the waiting in line for one hour to get into the Uffizi gallery - home to some of the most prized Renaissance art.  Of course Mike did all the driving, so I think he was a bit frazzled.  You will also notice that Mike takes all the pictures, so rarely is he featured on the blog.  I'll try to find a pic of him this time.  Mike wants you to visit his blog - perugiajournal.blogspot.com.

On Weds we had class and Em and Malcolm were guest speakers in my Introd. to Special Ed. class.  Malcolm explained the strategies he uses teaching English Language Learners. His kids are from all over the world and it's his job to work with them on English language a acquisition.  Emily spoke about her background in Teach for America, then at the SEED school and now at the Oak Hill Project working with incarcerated youth - and her conclusion that good teaching is good teaching is good teaching. . . Both Em and Malcolm stressed that the key defintely is  diffferentiated instruction.  They did  a great job - they were organized, articulate and knew their stuff.  Unfortunately, I was unprepared and didn't bring a camera so I don't have pictures of them in my classroom.

On Thursday we went to Assisi, which I have already talked about on this blog.  Then we spent a great, sunny, weekend in Rome doing all the tourist things - the Coliseum, the Forum and the Sistine Chapel.  Our exchange student from 20 years ago (she is turning 40 soon), came from Naples and met us for lunch.  On Sunday we took Em and Malcolm to the airport and trained it back to Perugia.

On Friday of this week, we took Mike's students on a field trip to some notable Franciscan landmarks.  La Verna is high in the hills of Tuscany and it's a very holy place.  It is the place where Francis is said to have received the stigmata.  Here the monks live and pray and every day they make a procession from the main church to a small chapel known as the Chapel of the Stigmata.  Here there is also a small cell where St. Bonaventure wrote "The Mind's Journey to God," a text that is part of the core curriculum at SBU.  We watched the procession, listening to  the beautiful prayer/chants, then we just enjoyed the serene beauty of the setting - rocky cliffs with snow-capped mountains in the distance.  It was pretty cold, but very fresh and invigorating.  Our friend Gilberto came for the weekend and enjoyed LaVerna and this next event with us.

On Saturday we went to the opening of a photographic exhibit.  The photographer was a young Italian woman who had traveled to a village in India where widows are sent to live as beggars.  She had photographed these women and then a local poet had written short poetic pieces to go with each photo.  It's hard to describe, but we bought the catalog and will bring it home with us.  The photographer had perfect English, so we were able to have a very interesting conversation with her about her ecperiences in India.  There were also 3 women playing Indian music - 2 on sitar and 1 on a drum that fascinated Mike.  The woman drummer's husband makes these and Mike will probably buy one, if we can figure out a way to get it back to the States.

So. . . another couple of weeks in this endlessly fascinating adventure.  Am I homesick?  Yes.  Do I love and feel at home here?  Yes/  That is the nature of my Italian/American schizophrenia.  It's not such a bad problem to have!
OK - the pictures are in but they go where they want to go, not necessarily with the text.  I'm sure my brilliant bloggers can figure it out!

Love and miss you all,
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masroorian on

thank you.
thanks. Nice reading.

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