What road led you to Rome?
My first trip to Rome was during the 1960s while on vacation with my parents as a study abroad student in Aix-En-Provence, France. When we arrived in the Eternal City, the atmosphere was so familiar and welcoming that I did not want to leave! Via Veneto seemed like a beautiful movie set, and the energy of the city was enthralling. I even attempted to enroll at La Sapienza, but I realized it was best to finish my junior year in France. I knew that one day I would be back, but I could not imagine that Rome would become “home” one day. I met my husband in Chicago, and our first posting together was Johannesburg, South Africa. We returned to Rome for a few years after our first posting, and left again for Vienna, Austria, New York, Rome again, and then Japan.
My husband’s Head office was located in Rome, and we returned to Rome every 5 years after a posting abroad. My husband and I returned to Rome in 2000, and more recently we have been dividing our time between Italy and the U.S.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I grew up in a small town outside of Chicago, and although I appreciated the wonderful environment where I lived, I dreamed of traveling abroad to learn about and experience other countries and cultures. I envisioned myself working at the United Nations as an interpreter or at an embassy to promote cultural exchange.
What was your first job?
After receiving my M.A at the Sorbonne in Paris, the French Consulate in Chicago offered me work as a press/public relations assistant to the famous actor and mime, Marcel Marceau, who was performing in the city for a few months. Initially I hesitated to accept the job, as I had never worked in that type of role before. My first day on the job I was overwhelmed to be in the presence of this great artist, but things went so well that I was asked to stay beyond my contract. It was an unforgettable experience.
What does AWAR mean to you and how has it impacted your life?
AWAR has been a significant part of my life for several years and many of the women I met many years ago continue to be my good friends today. I have learned the importance and value of volunteerism and I have experienced the positive energy generated by women working together in friendship. I am grateful to have served as President five times over four decades, and to have been given such unique opportunities of expression.
Can you share your most challenging experience as an AWAR member?
A significant memory goes back to 2001 at our first board meeting on September 11th that adjourned with the news of the terrorist attacks in the US. In spite of the uncertainty of the times and the potential threat to the American community, we were committed to moving forward with our program for the year. We succeeded beyond all expectations.
Can you share with us a few highlights of being a member of AWAR?
The most memorable event for me was our visit to the Quirinale in 1995 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of AWAR. I had the honor of representing our Association when we presented the President of the Republic Oscar Luigi Scalfaro with a medal to celebrate friendship between Italy and the United States.
What are you most grateful for?
I am grateful for a wonderful life that has been filled with love, adventure, and fulfillment. My husband’s work with the Italian Government allowed us to live in countries such as South Africa, Austria and Japan. Our family enjoyed the benefits of learning from diverse cultures and cultivated life-long friendships. These experiences have certainly influenced the development of our children, and has encouraged them to embrace a global perspective of the world.
Who was your biggest inspiration in life and why?
I have been inspired by more than one person in my life beginning with my father, who always encouraged and supported me to follow the paths I had chosen, without criticism or judgement. His balanced approach to life coupled with his moral integrity represented an ideal role model for me. Several teachers and professors have influenced me by sharing their knowledge and motivating me to always open more doors to intellectual enrichment.
How has AWAR changed over the years?
When I joined AWAR in 1985, there were wonderful programs and events offered to members, including the monthly meetings with a distinguished guest speaker. Many of these traditions continue today. The office was located in the Hotel Quirinale, where we also had space for classes and meetings; it really was a hub for activity! Fortunately, AWAR was founded on a solid constitution and by-laws, providing our members with a stable structure and defined guidelines to follow throughout the years. Of course, the times are constantly changing, and our association reflects these changes: it is increasingly complicated to balance work, children and volunteer activities. This has made it more challenging for women to make a commitment to participate in events and involvement on the board. However, I am confident that we will continue to find new ways to adapt and engage with members of the community. The mission of friendship and goodwill that has always held AWAR together remains as relevant today as ever.
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