This week, our first guest blogger is Sarah, a former student of ours. This week she shares her thoughts on the value of reconnecting with your roots, and describes her experience in doing that.
I’ve been sitting at my computer for the past half an hour, thinking of some way to begin this post, my first post ever anywhere, about one of the things I am most passionate about in life. As I kept erasing and re-writing sentence after sentence, I stopped and thought to myself, “How can I begin to even describe this amazing thing in my life that I am so fortunate enough to be able to do?” But, because I am a young woman of determination, I didn’t want to give up just yet. So, I looked to old photos for inspiration erased and re-wrote a couple more sentences, but still, nothing. I was beginning to get a little frustrated and had to step away from my desktop to make myself a tea to calm down. When I returned, I came to the simple conclusion…this thing is way too special and dear to me to merely begin to describe it with a few cliché sentences like, “On my last summer vacation,” or “My summer vacation was amazing because…” So, I have decided to just get right to the point by stating a simple name, San Foca.
Now, you’re probably all wondering, what and where the heck is San Foca and most importantly, what point I am trying to make? Well, San Foca is a small town in the region of Friuli Venezia-Giulia, which is located in the north of Italy, and it’s where I am fortunate enough to travel to every summer. It’s so small a town that my grandfather jokingly says, “We’re over 200 people, including the chickens.” It is surrounded by the scenic countryside, vineyards and endless crop fields, often populated by animals. It probably doesn’t sound all that exciting to someone who thinks of Italy as a cultural centre, imagining walking the streets of Rome, and visiting amazing museums; however, San Foca is where my heart is.
Ever since I was able to get on a plane, my parents have been taking me to Italy almost every year. My parents and I would travel every September, after my mom’s busy time at work, to spend a couple weeks in my beloved San Foca. My grandparents, who had immigrated to Canada, but after 27 years, decided to return to Italy, would also make the trip over every year to visit us in Toronto, but by the time I began elementary school, my grandparents were getting too old to make the trips.
It was only as I got a little bit older that I began to develop a true appreciation for San Foca. When I was younger, I didn’t know one word of Italian, nor did I have any friends there (other than the cousins I saw twice while I was there), so the trips were sort of boring in the beginning. After pleading, I was fortunate enough to bring my neighbour along with with me and my dad for three summers, which sparked my whole love affair with San Foca. With a friend, I was able to explore the ins and outs of the town, discovering little beauties like the old abandoned barn house at the end of a dirt road or the small Mother Mary shrine made to give people that little bit of comfort every time they drove by it. In the meantime, with the help of my cousins, my fear of speaking Italian was completely lifted, helped by my neighbour’s willingness to try out new phrases with me, and who, in turn, also received English lessons in thanks for being so patient with me.
My real love affair with San Foca happened when I had to go it without my friend.
I began to find confidence, a fearless attitude towards trying new things, including meeting new people and exploring my culture. As a result, I met some more amazing people, have been to some amazing places, and experienced, you guessed it, some amazing things while on my vacations there.
My family and the friends I’ve made in Italy are the most lovable, down-to-earth people, who would literally do anything for you, and want to make sure you are having a good time, at all times of the day. They are one of the major reasons why I love this place so much. The memories I share with these people, with San Foca itself, are memories that I hold close to my heart. They are memories I constantly think about, on an everyday basis and there isn’t a time where I don’t find myself stopping in the middle of whatever I am doing, remembering something, bringing an instant smile come across my face.
An appreciation of my culture and our roots has really helped me shape who I am and who I hope to be in life.
Sarah is a first year university student living in Toronto, and looking forward to her next travelling adventure.