My name is Tracy Huang and I have the pleasure of blogging for Temple Rome! I am a junior at Duke University majoring in civil engineering with a certificate in architectural engineering and a minor in visual arts. Although this is my first time in Europe, I am an extensive traveler, having been all over the US, Canada, Guatemala, China, Taiwan, and, most recently, Tanzania. Nonetheless, each experience is just as unfamiliar and exciting as the last.
I cannot believe that only two weeks ago, I was on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. The days have been jam-packed as I try to explore as much of the city as possible, so much so that it feels as if I have been in Rome for at least one month already! To slow down the pace and relax the Italian way, Temple Rome organized a day excursion a couple weekends ago to Todi and Titignano, small towns in the countryside, where everyone could wander through cobbled alleys and relish a nine-course lunch. While I quite enjoy the company of all the Temple Rome students, I find myself wanting time away from the loud, boisterous (and obviously American) excitement of my peers. As such, I began lagging behind my group of friends, taking time to frame shots, capturing the minute details of life as a Todi-an.
A woman hangs her laundry out to dry; her window overlooking the beautiful Umbrian valley.
A local of Todi noticed my behavior and, laughing to himself, greeted me. A man whose body looks as if it has lived a lifetime, yet still houses the spirit of a young adult; he wore a sharp navy suit and carried a classic brown leather messenger bag. Being that my Italian was nonexistent and he knew little English, we struggled for a common language. I asked him, “Est-ce que tu parle francais?”
“Oui,” he answered.
We walked in tandem to the main piazza, talking haltingly, yet enthusiastically, in French, Italian, and English. I learned that he and his husband live in Todi together and have so for a very long time. He has been to New York City and New Orleans (places I have been to as well!), and India and Sri Lanka (two places I want to visit very much). Having experienced so much of what life has to offer and the opportunities available to whoever wishes to grasp them, he deeply appreciates Todi’s serenity and simplicity. I immediately apologized for my classmates who, 500 feet ahead, chatted vociferously about their latest night out at Roman bars. Good-naturedly, he chuckled, “Je comprends. J’étais jeune aussi. I understand. I was young too.”
Not only was the conversation engaging, but also shows how global our world has become. No longer is it acceptable to know just one language. For this, I am grateful to have been raised in a bilingual home (English and Mandarin), to have had the opportunity to study French in high school, and to have learned conversational Swahili over the course of my two-month stay this past summer. I know my diverse language background will aid me in learning Italian, experiencing all that Rome (and Italy) has to offer, and to relate to people on an international level as we discuss political, linguistic, and socioeconomic differences. If only that man had known Mandarin and Swahili, now that conversation would have been something really extra ordinary.
Until my next adventure, bye, zai jian, au revoir, kwaheri, and now, ciao!