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  • Dr. Susan Skinner

When in Rome...

So the end of the phrase typically isn't spoken, it's assumed that everyone knows what it means. "When in Rome" is an idiom (remember learning about those in your World Language class!) used when referring to the ability and desire to adapt to the culture where you are visiting. In my case, it's literally, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do!". There's a few things I've noticed.


First, in the United States the first floor is typically the street level or ground floor and you would go up one flight of stairs to the second floor. In Rome, the first floor is the floor that is up one staircase from the street level. This caused me a bit of confusion when they told me my room was on the second floor so I went up one flight of stairs to what I thought was the second floor. After wandering around, not finding room 209, it dawned on me that I was not adapting to the local "how we do things around here" way of thinking.


Along those same lines, I'm still trying to connect 2pm to 14:00...why is that so confusing! My husband told me to just subtract 12 from the European afternoon time, so 14:00 -12 would be 2:00pm....but I'm a Theology Major, combining math with the time of day is admittedly very confusing (sorry Mrs. Seppala).


Another example of adapting to the local culture is the food. While Taher (our food service at school) is amazing, the food in Rome is wonderful. At lunch and dinner there are artfully presented cooked vegetables, along with delicious breads, meats and cheese and a pasta dish that doesn't even come close to what you might order at Buca's. At breakfast you will find pastries that melt in your mouth and a variety of coffee drinks that put Caribou and Starbuck to shame! Chicken Fried Steak might be the hit at BSM, but the food in Rome is nothing short of amazing.


What I find most appealing about being in Rome is the opportunity to pray with other Lasallians, brothers and lay partners. We started our day with Mass at 7:15am in the "Winter Chapel" - it was in Italian but I found I was able to follow along fairly well . It struck me that while it might seem like English is so very prevalent around the world, Jesus never spoke English. Contrary to my normal everyday life, the world does not revolve around the English language!



After Mass we had breakfast and then a prayer service. The prayer service was meaningful and I appreciated being able to spend time in prayer - we didn't rush through it, we gave ourselves the luxury of sitting with God. We prayed a short blessing before lunch and then did a longer time of reflection and prayer before dinner. Why is it that during my regular day I find time only for short, almost routine, prayer? Maybe this time in Rome is designed to allow us to slow down and step out of our regular cultural norms. Our work is centered around what it means to be in association with the Lasallian charism. A charism (the Christian Brothers/Lasallians) that is universal and transcends cultures, a charism that at the end of the day is about educating young people and witnessing the Gospel message to love one another!

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"There are two ways to see the world, one is as if there are no miracles, the other is as if everything is a miracle." This is one of my favorite quotes, its attributed to Albert Einstein.   This is the kind of thing I care about, having the eyes of faith has enriched my life in so many ways! 

 

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