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It's a Small World

Time 0:03:50

Transcript:

My life was simple. I was happy with my role of young bride and mom in Carpinone, a small Italian village of the Molise Region. And then we decided to emigrate to Canada. My husband came few months earlier, so that he could prepare for us, and on November 10, 1966, my son and I were on our way to Guelph.

I thought that I was mentally and physical ready for the big change, yet I was not even at the airport when I began to feel homesick. Going through customs , was enough to make me realized how difficult it can be to function in a new country if you don’t know the language.

It was passed midnight when our plane finally landed, extremely tire; I was pulling my son with one hand and bags with the other, when I found myself right in front of an escalator. I had never used one, my head was already spinning, and so afraid that I would just roll down the stairs. I guess fear was written all over my face, because the security guard just looked at me, and stopped the escalator. I felt such a sense of relief when I finally saw my husband, and I just start to cry and laugh all at the same time.

It was passed midnight when our plane finally landed, extremely tire; I was pulling my son with one hand and bags with the other, when I found myself right in front of an escalator. I had never used one, my head was already spinning, and so afraid that I would just roll down the stairs. I guess fear was written all over my face, because the security guard just looked at me, and stopped the escalator. I felt such a sense of relief when I finally saw my husband, and I just start to cry and laugh all at the same time.

Yes, our family was finally reunited, I was happy to see my sister again and meet her new baby, but my troubles were definitely not over. My inability to communicate made it all so difficult, and I was feeling lonely even when there were people around me. Then, like magic, with each new word I learned, the wall of isolation crumbled.

But at the same time, I didn’t want to lose what I had. I wanted to continue with my culture and traditions and pass it to our children. My sister and I gathered signatures and lobbied the school board to start an Italian language program. The program was very successful, and suddenly everyone was interested in following our example. Within a few years, there were twenty-seven different language classes under one roof. Each day, we started together in the gym, saying good morning in every language and we all came together for each other’s cultural celebrations. It made us aware that we all had something to be proud of.

By the time my second boy was born my whole extended family had joined us here, I am full of gratitude for the many opportunities that my new country provided for our family. – a proud Canadian – very proud of my Italian roots. My painful beginning became the inspiration for my lifelong commitment to language education, which I have been promoting for more than 4 decades.

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