This past weekend we hosted a meeting for the coalition of American university programs in Italy here at Villa Le Balze. For me, it was a great opportunity to meet some of the big movers and shakers in Italy study abroad, as well as to catch up with old friends. All three of my colleagues from the UC Siena center were here, all of us now working for different programs since that one closed. Giuditta, above, and I were mostly responsible for greeting everyone and doing check-in. That's her at our welcome post.
I had a real blast from the past when I recognized but couldn't immediately place the following woman. She was trying to figure out who I was, too, when it clicked: she was my Italian professor at the beginning of my year in Bologna! I remember her being a wonderful, fun teacher and loved being able to reconnect with her.
We held the meeting on the loggia, but the wind proved too strong for the shades, which kept flying up (Alan likes to joke that we almost decapitated our guests; since no one got hurt it was actually kind of funny) so all 50 people had to squeeze into our thirty-person capacity library. Lunch was catered by Le Lance, the restaurant where Sandra's husband works, and it was a big hit. She recently told me that she has him to thank for everything she has learned about cooking. Lucky us!
For me, the highlight of the day was getting to catch up with Vicky, my colleague at UC Siena and a kindred spirit. She's always been convinced that I would find an Italian guy and settle down here just like she did, so she was shocked to learn that I'm moving back to the states this summer. She is so encouraging, always having so much faith in me and thanking me for helping her through a difficult summer of life changes while we were working together. You really never know the effect you might have on people's lives, but I certainly believe we all cross each other's paths for a reason. Now it's her turn to give me positive mojo. She instilled her faith in me about the success of my new life chapter. Citing past examples, her exact quote was, "What Kelly wants, Kelly gets." I like the sound of that.