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World Mag > WM Winter 2018 Special edition 100 Years of Romania December 1st > Fabiana Pezzoni - When your kids say “Back home in Romania”

Fabiana Pezzoni - When your kids say “Back home in Romania”

I think it’s in my blood. I have never been doubtful or scared of moving to a different place (five so far) and I have always made it my home.

The Papastefani-Pezzoni Family
The Papastefani-Pezzoni Family

I think it’s in my blood. I have never been doubtful or scared of moving to a different place (five so far) and I have always made it my home. 

My grandmother, at the beginning of the last century, left her family, her home and country – Italy - to follow the love of her life, to one of the least developed countries, Albania. For her, making herself at home and settling meant opening the first maternity ward of the small hospital in the city – as a young and enthusiastic gynecologist doctor, while her husband was the new Finance Manager of the Italian oil company. Settling in meant trying hard to learn the language by training the very first Albanian obstetric nurses, or raising awareness and convincing the local population to send their women to have their babies in the hospital, in an attempt to improve the dramatic infant and mother mortality, or even talking to other powerful families of the city - potential sponsors – in order to furbish, equip, and strengthen her newly established hospital. She used to tell me stories of her amazing life…at times not happy at all, but so inspiring, so beautiful. 

When we moved from Ukraine to Romania our daughters, Sara and Giorgia, had just finished 2nd and 4th grade. My husband, Armando, – a civil engineer - had already worked in Romania for more than 4 years, had learned the language, made friends, but was then appointed somewhere else. 

He kept saying how he would love to go back to work in Romania, this time with us all, and that finally happened in 2008. He was lucky to be already speaking Romanian, knowing the country and having already made Romanian friends. It was for us as well. It is not customary that you move to a foreign country and you already have friends who look after you, go with you to markets, to see houses and schools, while your husband is somewhere in the country either working on a bridge or on the restoration of 100 schools in rural areas of Romania. I was ever so grateful for that. 

I did not know then that AISB would become my family and Romania would become my home. Our kids integrated very well. When we just moved to Bucharest we were living near a park in Dorobanti, in a house surrounded by apartment blocks – full of kids. The girls were already using 4 languages to communicate – English, Italian, Albanian and Russian - and playing outside every day with more than 20 kids from the neighborhood helped them learn Romanian fast and make new friends even before starting school. 

Going to school was a joy for them, so getting involved in extracurricular activities and social services was almost automatic. Student Council, Vampires team, plays and musicals to start with, but soon we started holding babies at the Fundatia Inocenti Center as well as at the Missione Don Orione. 

I once read an article saying that kids do expect to see their parents at home, I mean it is a presence that doesn’t astonish or amaze them at all; they don’t feel particularly proud for seeing you in the kitchen or living room and do not talk to their friends about that. On the other hand, the presence of one (or both) parents at their school is something that in the long run will have a huge positive impact on them. At first, I felt it was not being fair to me, because I was not looking for a job and was staying home exactly to be there for them. The article then went on explaining how kids start “noticing” parents when they go to their school matches, when they are present to help the teacher or with the PTO, they often feel pride for things that their parents do at school and even talk to the other kids about you. Long story short, with all the time I had on my hands, and given my outgoing personality, I immediately got involved at the school through the PTO. 

Loving books, I started organizing Scholastic Book Club, coaching kids to pick and order books – ah, the enthusiasm, the wait and the fun when the books arrived. Christmas, every month. I then got involved with the Food Committee, working with the school caterer, nutritionists and Elementary School to ensure organic and healthy food was provided to the children. The Policy Committee, performances department, organizing nationality liaisons, events, including the larger community wide ones, such as International Days and Terry Fox & Welcome Back BBQ followed shortly. My experience as an involved parent culminated with subbing, being part of chairing a group of eight editions of the PTO Auction, and leading the PTO for two years. Being the President of the PTO and Gala Chair for two years in row was the busiest time of my life and the most exciting here in Bucharest. Viewing the community from inside and connecting it with the wider Bucharest community, to come together for very noble causes was one of the most rewarding activities I was part of. 

We came to Romania for 2-3 years…then 10. Lucky again? Yes, definitely! The girls were more and more involved in school and other organizations – combining the CAS requirements with personal interest, giving a hand wherever possible. Two different natures - my girls - but so caring, reaching out, offering a shoulder or an ear for whomever felt the need. I was very proud to see them both nominated by their classmates as peer counselors but even happier and prouder to see them both nominated and awarded for their international understanding. Because for us as parents, while it is important to be good in school, the most important thing was that they were the caring, helping, supporting friend, connecting and motivating other fellow peers and finding joy and fulfillment in doing this. My daughters are both AISB graduates and study abroad now, and I miss them. 

My husband Armando has always served on Boards of Trustees in other schools before coming to Bucharest, and this time he even got to be part of the construction of the new Early Learning Center, as supervisor of works and then involved directly in the construction and finishing. This goes to show that AISB is truly in the blood of the entire Pezzoni family! 

Now that my PTO days are over, I am a full time employee of the school. I am proud to have set up the Vampires store, the first one of this kind in school history. It is not just about a sport shirt – it is never just about a transaction, be it a shirt, or a service – it is also about feeling proud to wear a Vampires shirt, or a “Proud Vampire Mom” shirt. 

As an alumni mom and employee my life continues to revolve around the school, as I now have the privilege to also be the AISB Alumni Coordinator. I love this job. I am once again involved in maintaining the school’s legacy – excellence, community building, networking, support for our wider community members. Once a vampire – always a vampire: so true! 

So, it isn’t just by chance that when I ask my girls “When are you coming home, baby” I mean “back home to Bucharest” and I am ever so grateful for this warm and welcoming home.

Read the entire edition of the WORLD Magazine Special Edition Winter 2018 here.

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