Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When in Rome

I save too much stuff. I feel very sorry for my children and grandchildren who have to clean up this mess when I die. I found in one of my boxes, a speech I had co-written and given in the last days of my semester abroud. It is published here for the benefit of those who were there with me.

Fall 1989 Romers Farewell Speech:

As we begin to think back on our semester and see it coming to an end, many events come to mind as humorous and nostalgic reminders of our Rome experience.

It began with the realization that we were in for a semester with only half a bath tub, or as it is now called, a cro-mag. Yet, even with the constant shortage of hot water, things got increasingly better.

Our trip to Florence brought a once in a life time chance to dance on John Travolta's dance floor, and in Assisi, we rallied with the Facist in Rocca Maggori. We were becoming increasingly accustomed to Italian things like Perroni, Cappuchini, and dodging Komakasi Pigeons.

In what seemed like days since we had arrived, we were off to Greece. If you weren't in a state of awe from the sunset seen from the deck of the ship, you surely would be at the fact that we survived the Greek bus rides.

Our ten days were decorated with unforgettable memories. Our secret fire under the Olympian stars, that certain closeness we all felt as we huddled around to hear the "top 10" from our favorite quotable professor. We were lucky enough to witness Professor Novinski's excellent lectures and blessed enough to witness the stigmata acquired from Aigina mopeds. And no one will forget that illusive student who disappeared and reappeared in the most unseemly places. Not to mention the poor Aigian who is still looking for his dog.

We were dad to say good-bey to Gyros, Baklava, and Amstel, but glad to return to Home Sweet Rome and Vitinia. For here held some of our greatest memories: lounging in the lounge, listening to the stereo that we had worked so hard to purchase; being led in various choruses of Happy Birthday at dinner; keeping each other informed by way of class attendance sheets as well as being careful not to forget fellow student John Hrad on any of them. Together we battled the Italian crowds at the Papal Audience and together sat quietly at our own Private Papal Mass.

Our individual travel could hardly be considered individual. Each Monday brought stories of event filled weekends. We collectively shared the excitement of the historic fall of the Berlin Wall and collectively hoped that those who looted our belongings in the night would enjoy them as much as we had.

As I reflected on our semester one word kept coming to mind: growth. We have all grown: academically, spiritually, practically and most obviously in regard to one another. I've seen the strengthening of many old friendships and the growth of many new ones. We've made it through our Rome Experience without any major tragedies and with a whole lot of fun.

Today, I wanted to say something stimulating to expand on that word growth, since we HAVE grown both individually and collectively. So, I went to Webster's dictionary for some help. The first definition was: an increase in size. I didn't feel like elaborating on that aspect of MY semester, so I looked at the second definition which read: an abnormal mass of tissue. I took that as a sign to leave the reflection to you and end by saying simply, we have all grown an it in not due just to Gelatti.

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