Hillary Clinton wrote a book titled “It takes a Village to Raise a Child”. I will admit that I have never read it, but I believe that phrase to be true, now more than ever. In fact, I think being in a foreign country where I am trying to adjust to a culture and language, you need support and understanding. When we first moved here things were quite rocky and I felt like a huge square peg in a very round hole. It seemed that nothing was going right for us at the time, not even the school we selected for our son. My son was having some issues adjusting at his school, nothing was falling into place. It seemed to be falling apart.
Then my husband’s bosses’ wife mentioned there was a Junior School in the Center, a division of the school her children attended. I was so lost at this point I thought to give it a try and make an appointment. What I wanted was clear, in comparison to the other school. I felt that finding what was best for my son would be difficult. I set my expectations low.
I think that meeting was a complete turning point in our existence in Rome. Dramatic, yes I know. It had taken place just before the Easter break and when the school was hosting what was called “Mad Hatter’s Day”. Now the Head of the School was explaining all the crazy hats, but it painted a nice scene of what this school was about. I saw parents volunteering by decorating and setting up an Easter Egg hunt. I began to see camaraderie in the flow of creating a nice day for the children. Further, through our discussions with the Head, it was apparent my requirements on class sizes and teacher to student ratio were met. When Shane started that first week it was like a ton of bricks had been lifted from my shoulders and he started making “best friends”. Parents acknowledged me by INTRODUCING themselves, therefore making me feel welcomed. Words cannot express how thankful I felt.
Moving on to this school year I made that same effort to those new parents. I got involved with the school and gradually met more people. After we drop the children off I go with a group of mothers to exercise, then for coffee. My son likes school to play in the park after school and further develop his friendships. Each school term he selects an after school club, which he would talk about all week.
While gathering these images, I remember this day before the break this year. I stood there thinking how lucky I am for this experience and this school. Through this year we, as a family, spent time with other families from the school. Most are expats trying to make their way through the sweet chaos of the Eternal City. However, I have come to appreciate that I am not alone any longer and that I have found a very nice village.