Angela, from Letters from Usedom, was kind enough to interview me, after I sent her my request.
1. You said you were born in Italy and then moved to the United States at 17. Can you tell us more about your youth and how you came to take that continent- and life-changing decision?
There were no secondary schools in my home town in Italy when I lived there in the fifties. Relatives in the United States suggested I study in the U.S. So, I applied to college, and off I went to Los Angeles. My intention was to finish four years and return back to Italy where my family still lived. But love changed everything.
2. You were working as a teacher before you retired. Was that fun? What were your most impressive experiences, and would you do it again? (always trying to squeeze more questions in one!)
I started teaching in a Catholic high school, where discipline was not a problem. Many of our students came from Watts, the location of a major racial disturbance that put the place on the map in the mid sixties. That disturbance and the effect it had on students and staff opened my eyes. It pointed me toward a life devoted to educating those who needed education to climb out of poverty. Most of my teaching experiences from that time on, took place among immigrants and poor.
3. I read your last post entry “Speak Out” and found it fabulous. How did you develop this attitude in your life?
Each of us is most happy when we are matched to our jobs, our life work. I've been fortunate. Every day of my working life was treasured; I learned how hungry each of us is to be somebody, to be a change agent, to connect to the bigger world. We are stronger and more courageous than we know.
4. Would you like to share a profound, or life-changing event that has happened to you? Was there a person who influenced you most?
I already mentioned the Watts Riots. But there is another influence, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart who ran Immaculate Heart College where I spent four years as an undergraduate and two additional years training to become certified as a teacher for California. They embodied the new spirit of an entire era. Sister Corita, one of the nuns, was an activist artist, a strong influence on all of us. She saw each of us girls as "Instrument of Grace", powerful tools against injustice and hypocrisy. There is a sad story about the nuns, however. Their outspoken behavior caused them a great deal of political trouble.
5. What is the nicest thing anybody has ever done to you, or (if you like to answer that) that YOU ever did to anyone?
The nicest thing was the opportunity to bring my baby to work, so I could continue to nurse him. One administrator gave me permission to bring my mom and my baby to school, set up a nursery in the lounge, move my classroom across the lounge, and that allowed me to nurse my baby every two hours. Plus, it allowed me time with my mom who had come to visit me and help for a few months.
As an aside, this month, the local school board is passing a policy, now mandated by the state, to provide a 'nursing area' for new mothers, complete with privacy. What was unusual and gifted, now has become a right for new mothers.
There are rules for this activity. If you want to be interviewed:1. leave a request.
2. I will send you five questions for you to answer
3.You post the questions and the answers on your blog
4 Include these rules
5. When someone requests to be interviewed you send them five questions and these rules.