12:52 7 NOV 2014 Elk Point, South Dakota, USA GS Jade Barrett
“Going to a party, for me, is as much a learning experience as, you know, sitting in a lecture” – Natalie Portman
During our travels the Great American Bridge Tour often takes out time to explore the area surrounding our tournaments. We are constantly on the lookout for restaurants, coffee shops, the good market and all places where we might find something fun, unusual or tasty.
We also spend a fair amount of our time speaking to people, learning their area’s history and culture, many times making new friends along the way.
When asked about the reason for our adventures, we tell them about bridge, and about how we have traveled millions of miles for decades in our search of personal growth and success as players in much the same manner as other fulltime performing artists – existing as nomads for much of our lives. We speak of our passion for the game, our journey of discovery and of the other things that are important to us – family, friends and beliefs.
Our last trip to Italy included the Angelini tournament in Rome and then a week in Padova region, the area I have grown to love. In the company of my partner, Dr Donna Lombardini and our friend and guide, Paolo Clair, we traveled the countryside sampling everything from olives to pomegranates, sausages to wine and just about everything else if the number of kilos we gained is any indication. One of our stops included the ancient city of Monselice, home to one of the great arms museums of the world and the High School just south of Padova where Paolo works as a teacher.
Paolo offered us an opportunity to meet with the English classes taught by Antonella Martelli and Maria Teresa Bertoletti and to speak with the students (in English, of course) about our lives and passions, and to expose them to Americans and our thoughts.
During the hours that we spent at the Monselice e Conselve –Cattaneo/Mattei we also told them of the charity we support, Heifer International. With the help of a very well equipped computer center, we were able to show how Heifer International has performed its mission over its 70 year history of lifting millions of families out of the dire conditions of abject poverty.
The sharing of just a few of the incredible success stories that these simple, but vital projects have allowed to be written were well appreciated by both faculty and students, and it warmed our hearts to experience their reactions. There was even talk of operating a fundraising effort similar to Read to Feed that so many schools in the USA have made. As ardent supporters of Heifer, we were thrilled for the opportunity to expose these young, talented minds to the good works of the kind and generous people who volunteer so much of their time, money and work to effect lasting change in the world.
We also enjoyed the students as they spoke with us, though many were anxious about their presumed lack of skill with our language. As they listened to yours truly slaughter Italian however, they became less reticent about testing their use of English. Both Dr Donna and I felt a great sense of reward from the experience and we thank Paolo, Antonella and Maria Teresa for being both great teachers and welcoming hosts. We hope to return to Monselice again soon.