Thursday, November 19, 2009

People Support in Italia

My first night in Italy was overwhelming. Not only had I just met all of these people, but I was exhausted from traveling, and didn't even know where I was, as I followed a group of other teachers to a welcome dinner for us. On our way, we stopped and stood in this beautiful piazza as the sun was starting to set over the Adriatic. I was excited and happy about this new adventure in my life. It felt like the right place to be.

That night at dinner, is when I first introduced my allergies to the director of my school, along with some other school staff. I had mentioned to one of the teachers I spoke with before coming, but I didn't want to worry anybody, and at my age, it is certainly not a job prerequisite to let people know. I had my chef card in Italian. I took it out to order dinner. I was sitting near an Italian woman who works in the school office, and she looked at my card and helped me order. Pheww...! The meal went well. I did have a lot of attention brought upon me by my allergies, but just out of peoples' surprise by how many I had, and how careful I had to be. I am so used to this kind of attention at every new experience that I embark upon, so I already knew what to expect.

The pizza I had that night, I think is still the best pizza that I have had since living in Italy! I had no problems, and by the end of the night, most people there, had some idea of my allergies.

My first night in Italy with my most favorite pizza!

My roommate, co-teacher, school staff, and friends, have all been really fabulous with my food allergies! I feel so lucky with the amount of kindness, caring, and support, that people have given me here. Right from the beginning, I have had no difficulties with people not taking my food allergies seriously. The school secretary helped me speak to the kitchen staff about my allergies, to make sure I would be able to eat the lunch, and gave them a copy of my Chef card to put in the kitchen.

My co-teacher always makes sure to wash her hands if she eats anything with nuts. My roommate has her own peanut butter knife that she keeps in her kitchen cabinet, and is extremely careful not to use it with the sponges. She also is awesome about washing her hands if we are out somewhere and she eats something I can't have. Peanuts are often served with drinks at a cafe or bar, so that is often where I need to be most careful about people remembering. I am very lucky to have her though! She definitely understands and is amazing about it! My other friends from school are also very sweet about it. Whenever someone has a dinner party, they always ask about my allergies, and try to make sure I can eat what they are making. I have never been around people in a new situation who are so aware about my allergies, and care about making sure I can also eat. It is really extraordinary to feel that included!

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