Sunday, January 24, 2016

One Week Later…

Jet lag notwithstanding, the week took off with a blistering pace—as much as you can ‘blister’ in jet lag—to get our ducks in a row.  Learning how to get around the campus, meeting the Italian staff and volunteers, goats and baby goats, dogs and puppy dog, and a Shetland pony; stumbling through introductions, pronunciations, fracturing the language as the Italians fracture ours. 

Learning the kitchen routine—recycling, courtesy (don’t throw any food out), schedules, names of plates, foods, condiments. Setting up our office, main classroom/ library/worship center—not only with furniture, copiers, printers, office supplies and desks, but space heaters to ward off the frosty conditions as radiators failed in the cold snap.

By Tuesday our tech wizards had the AV system set up—an heroic effort—and within days we were fully functional (more or less) on internet and wifi.  Computers passed to the wizards to download necessary softwares for videos and audio clips in teaching sessions.  Passwords entered, memorized or written down.  Downloading What’s App to communicate with one another. 

Setting up our own living quarters.  Food shopping, finding out where the cafes, drug stores, ATMs, laundromat and supermarkets are. 

Setting up my own apartment: the heating system, shower, stove and recycling routine.  Meeting Mico the cat.  Learning I needed to keep all technology out of sight, and the curtains drawn when I go out, as there have been a number of thefts in the neighborhood.  Walking the roads around me to find the best views and trails ( a work in progress).  Discovering a vineyard and olive grove along the way.  Streams. 

Discovering I have a wonderful bed (praise be to God), and a tiny shower (don’t turn too fast). 

Combining English, Italian, French and German in conversation with my host family, to figure out the mysteries of the heating system, shower, stove and recycling routine…enjoying a pizza with them, and Theresa’s honey cakes, and learning her washing machine (maiden voyage: tomorrow).  Sharing a ride to church.  Enduring two hours in Italian, jotting down words, mashing my French/English/Italian together in an effort to talk with those who greet me.  Meeting the artists.  Invitations to meals, coffee, studio exhibits.

Staff meetings, prayer meetings, team meetings and meetings with the Italian staff. Syncing up on all materials, programs, curriculum, reviewing student files, portfolios and applications.  Crunching numbers and navigating GPS failures.  

Discovering Granny’s Attic and hauling furniture down, for our living, working, studio or teaching spaces. Setting up rooms for the creative disciplines and small group meeting rooms. Discovering artwork stored there in 2010, after the Artslink outreach; discovering one of my own pieces propped up in the hallway. 


Laying the dance floor, taking pictures, posting comments, praying over the rooms for the arrival of the students tomorrow, distributing spiritual and actual chocolates on pillows.  Learning the history of the place.

Arrivals of three more of our staff, and praying for the luggage that didn’t make it.  Preparing our first worship service together, and enjoying one meal after another.  Poring over dictionaries or Google Translate.  Practicing said fractured Italian. 

Miracolo--we got traction within days, each one busy with individual tasks, friend-making, explorations, reactions and adaptations.  I have one word for the week: buono!  (Buona?)  A Sabbath breather, a Sabbath walk, a visit to a local church, an evening to recover from immersion. 

In the morning: Week 2 begins.  

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