.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I Am Someone's Hero-A Long but Adorable Post

Part 1
"Dear Gina,
I'm working on a school project that has to do with different kinds of hero's. I'm supposed to write about a person in my life, who is a hero to me. I picked you as my hero. I would have some questions for you except I forgot them at school, so tomorrow, January 31th, I will send you another e-mail with the questions.
Thanks a lot,

Part 2

"Charlie, this is the sweetest thing ever and I am more than happy to participate. When we are all done I am going to put these on my blog for all to read.

1. What have you done to make a positive difference in somebody's life?

Having been a nanny, tutor, mentor and family friend to many different families, I’ve had the chance to spend time with some fantastic children, (some are soon to be teenagers, and some are now). I remember working very diligently with a child named Ariel, he was in second grade and could not read. For an entire year, I worked very closely with him in after school reading program. Slowly he began to come around and after 6 months, he started to read.

With the children I worked with, I tried to instill in them the value of doing your best in regards to school work and projects. I helped these amazingly bright kids make their ideas come to life. We learned how to use the library, take notes, build diagrams, use their talent to draw, paint, and sculpt. I wanted them to care about the work they were producing enough to really put some thought into it and end up with something they were proud of.

2. Have you ever jeopardized your life for someone or something you care about?

I don’t think I have ever jeopardized my life in any serious way. There are no life or death situations to speak of if that is what you mean. Did you mean anything else?

3. Did you take risks and/or sacrifices in order to accomplish something?

When I was in high school, my dad asked me if I wanted to go to college. I said “yes.” He told me that he would help me pay for it but I had to also make an attempt to be a good student and to save some money. I had a goal in mind, to get off the island and see a different part of the world. So when I was 15, I began to work hard. I enrolled in Honors courses, I joined the National Honor Society, I began volunteer work and I got a part time job after school and on weekends. I did not have much time to hang out with friends; I did not have much free time at all. From the age of 15-18, I worked non-stop.

After three years, I saved enough and did well enough in school to be accepted to 4 top universities. After high school I said “good-bye” to Guam and left for Seattle. I was a bit afraid at first, everything in the world seemed bigger than Guam and I knew no one but I was determined to get to know the city and to forge ahead with my education.

4. What do you do in a normal day?

Now that I am living in Italy, I have more free time than when I was in the U.S. I still run errands like picking up the dry cleaning, clean house, do the grocery shopping, etc. . . . I also have 2 English students, both 5 years old. I give English lessons and spend time finding interactive games and exercises for my students. At this point in my life, I have the chance to indulge in many hobbies and interests that I simply did not have time for before. I paint, draw, take photos, cook, take walks, write on my blog, write letters, read, work in the darkroom, and many, many more things. The only thing missing is a garden.

5. What were some of the challenges you had as a young person? (Not that you still aren't young)

Growing up on Guam made for a carefree and fortunate childhood. My parents were always working hard so as a child I had a lot of responsibilities. I helped to feed our chickens, water the plants in the garden, pick the fruits and vegetables, take care of my sisters, do the laundry, do housework and go to school.

Being Chinese on Guam was a good thing because there were a lot of other Asians around and I did not feel different. There were Asian foods available at every mom and pop store around the corner. Once in a while I got picked on my other kids for being Chinese, I remember on incident in which a boy was making fun of my cousin and I and make her cry with his insults. The bus driver saw what happened and made him get off the bus and walk home.

6. Do you remember when you left Vietnam?

I was very young when I left Vietnam, I was 2. My dad tells me we left on a giant cargo plane with no seats. Everybody sat on the floor with their kids between their legs. I am kind of glad I don’t remember. After I landed on Guam, my parents decided to forge ahead and find a place to live and a job. My little sister and I were “borrowed” by my godfather and taken back to Thailand for a year as my parents got settled. I don’t remember my life in Thailand either but from the photos I know they took very good care of us and loved us.

7. What was it like being such a young kid and going through so many changes?

Well after I arrived back on Guam from Thailand, I had a fairly quiet life. My family (all 7 of us then later my grandma) lived together without any major changes.

8. What's it like adapting to Italy's culture?

This is a hard one but I will make it short. Italy is very different from the U.S. many people here like the U.S. and many people don’t. In one day I can hear a whole slew of praises for the U.S. and in the same day, many criticisms. I try very hard to take the time out to tell people what my experience has been living in the U.S. and to let them know both the positives and negatives.

Of course being an entirely different country, many things are different. As you know since you have been here, meals in Italy are eaten much later than in the U.S., lunch can be from 1-3 pm and dinner can be from 8-10 pm, at first my stomach could not take it but now I have gotten used to it. Cars move faster, the food is different (no Easy Mac here), shops offer different clothes, shoes and many other different items. The weather here is much cooler in the winter and hotter in the summer. Family is very important to Italians and it is very nice to see entire families at the park and having lunch on a Sunday afternoon. Last but not least, there are not very many Americans here so I don’t hear English very often.

9. What kind of sacrifices did you make, moving to Italy?

Since this happened so recently, I am answering this question first. Seattle has been my adopted home for the past 13 years. Over those 13 years I made good friends and became an honorary member of many families, 7 total (that I am still in constant contact with). I must say this was the hardest thing to leave behind; the warmth and the love I felt for and received from these families.

I also left my only relative, my sister, Kentra when I left Seattle. The much talked about cat was left with her but now I have him back again.

Although Italy is an exciting country, it is very different from the U.S. and I knew I would have to take time out to learn the language, learn my way around Turin, and work extra hard to make new friends. So far all this has been going rather well for me and my hard work has paid off."

Part 3

"Hi Charlie,

I hope your project is going fine and it is not giving you too much trouble. I love your questions as they are insightful and really interesting. So here goes with the answers.

1.HChineseyour Chiense parents end up in Vietnam?

Both of my parents were born in Vietnam. My great grand parents sailed from China in search of a better life. At that time (about 1860's or so) millions of Chinese left southern China for the U.S. gold rush. Remember we did a diaorama on this? Well anyways, my great grandparent decided to try another place and they ended up in Vietnam. They opened a grocery store in Saigon, when both my parents and I was born.

2.Did your family speak Chinese at home?

My family spoke Chinese all the time at home and it is my first language. Eventually as we started school and got more involved in learning English my parents decided it would be better to speak English to us. Also they wanted to improve their English. So by the time I was 8, 9 and 10, we spoke English and Chinese at home.

3.What were the favorite foods that your mom made?

Both my mom and dad were great cooks, we made our own Chinese noodles and won ton wrappers. My dad makes wonderful wonton and soups and my mom makes great BBQ pork, spring rolls and Vietnamese dishes. But I will have to say that my favorite dishes were:

corn and crab meat soup

homemade wonton soup

Oxtail soup

And last but not least abalone with shitake mushrooms. (Ask your mom about this since she used to live and work in Honlg Kong, I believe.)

I am so glad to help you and I hope you get an A+, on your project."


*** Note: I forgot to add that Charlie is 12 and one of the children I "looked" after in Seattle. I won't say "took care of", he might take offense since he is a pre-teen now.

All contents copyright 2004-2006.
All rights reserved.


At 11:56 PM, Blogger Judith in Umbria said...

Gia-Gina, I am too old to make heroes of living persons, but I appreciate the heck out of you, and I am really pleased to see that a cool 12 year old has the sense to appreciate you too.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Melissa said...

I remember Charlie from piano lessons, of course, and this is SO sweet! :)


Post a Comment

<< Home