This year, more than any other I find myself being present. Maybe it's because I teach 8th graders, and the way they shout, "Ms. St. Jean!" leaves me with no choice but to notice and note. I used to rush through the years waiting for the next thing. When I was 12, I couldn't wait to be 13; when I was in college I couldn't wait to be in grad school. When I was in grad school, I couldn't wait for it to be over.
This past Friday, after a meeting, tourists stopped me to ask for directions. As I was about to leave them, I felt prompted to ask where they were visiting from. They answered Tuscany, Italy, Lucca to be exact. "Sono abitato a Italia," I exclaimed. I studied in Florence, Italy which is about an hour and half away, and went to Lucca several times. We began to speak excitedly, and the four of us went an grabbed coffee and babka at a local bakery.
Why do I share this? I share it because if I hadn't stopped to ask a simple question, I would have missed out on meeting three people from a place I love. When I studied abroad in Italy all those years ago, it was my first lesson in not rushing. I slowed down, and enjoyed every moment of every day. I would stroll through Florence, spend hours at the Uffizi, walk by the Arno, and got to know the owners of the cafe located down my block. I was able to see, hear, and understand more when I unintentionally slowed down to match the pace of the people and the country around me.
This weekend being present allowed me to help tourists feel welcome in a city where they had not been made to feel at home. I was able to start new relationships because I decided to pay attention. I would have never started a conversation, and break bread. And no one knows how to fully enjoy their surroundings like the beautiful people of Toscana, Italia. I'm excited to go visit my new friends in the near future!
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Ms. St. Jean
Native New Yorker teaching and living the middle school life, using this site to keep it 100. My students are the embodiment of joy.