Sunday, December 5, 2010

Teacher vs. Teacher

"What are you allergic to again, and what happens if you have something you are allergic to?" I heard the science teacher calling over to me as I was grabbing something out of my classroom, with all of my students sitting around her on the rug. "Don't worry about it.  We can talk later," I said as I left the room again. I was blown away by the fact that she was discussing my allergies with my students.

It all began when I walked into my classroom and saw cookies and frosting all over my desk.  In Italy there are no cookies that don't have nuts in them or are made with a mixed nut oil.  I didn't get upset with the science teacher, but I did ask her quietly away from my students, if she could please make sure to wash off my desk before leaving.  This same teacher I have blogged about before.  She is the only one at my school who has given me a difficult time about my allergies. This time though, when she was involving my kids, it infuriated me.

The science teacher continued on the rug with my students to discuss my allergies as I left.  At the end of the school day, I went back to my classroom to speak to her.  I said, "I don't want to scare my students, so I have only briefly mentioned my allergies.  Food is never in my classroom, so I don't ever even think about it.  If you are going to involve my students with food in my classroom, please inform me ahead of time.  Since this is my class and students, it is my decision how much I share with them.  They are young, and although I want them to be aware I have allergies, it is the beginning of the year, and I don't want to scare them.  This is a decision I have made for my students, and it is very irresponsible of you to discuss my health with my students.  Please don't do that again.  I am happy to reiterate my allergies to you and answer any questions you have, but my health is mine to deal with, and should not be discussed with my students."  She starred at me, then said with some serious attitude in her voice, "Yeah, okay." That was that. 

When I deal with people who are this self-focused and uncaring, it is challenging not to completely go off and lose my temper!  I know that will not express the correct message that I want to convey though, so instead I bite my tongue, take some deep breaths, count to ten, and try to rationalize a point of view so incredibly different than my own. 

This Year in Italy...

This is my second year living in Italy, and I am finding that this year is a significantly different experience for me as an Allergic Reactor. Between living alone, having no close friends return for another year, and trying to make new friends, I have had many interesting encounters and experiences.  

I am definitely enjoying my apartment this year.  It is my dream apartment with beautiful exposed wooden beams, stone, brick, and two balconies.  One of the best parts though is having a kitchen all to myself.  I have full control over what goes into it.  My roommate last year was amazing with my allergies, but it is still nice to not even have to think about it.  For an Allergic Reactor in her twenties, this is pretty spectacular!

Since I do work abroad, it is common for people to come and go from year to year.  This past year was an even larger turnover than is typical here, and none of my close friends from last year returned.  This has been one of the greatest challenges for me; trying to make new friends all over again and find people who are kind and understanding about my allergies.  Last year I was thankful to have such amazing friends here.  Everyone was so sweet and understanding about my allergies.  I always felt like people were supportive and aware.  This year is a different story though, and I am struggling to find that same feeling of caring and understanding among the new staff.

There have been quite a few experiences from this year so far with other teachers, that I am working on writing to share with my readers!  Coming soon!