To set the scene, the students have made it to the infamous end-of-the-semester farewell dinner. A day and a half before showtime, the students were hurrying around to prepare a beloved meal (Taco Tuesday) for all of those who have worked hard for the past 12 weeks to make this program a reality for the 9 girls. Beans were being slow-cooked to perfection, many onions were sliced and many tears were shed, and 3 flans were produced for this evening. I observed the organized chaos and couldn’t be more proud of my students.
Tension was high. Stress was starting to escalate. The anxiety that is naturally produced when it comes to hosting a crowd set in. “Do we have enough wine? The Italians know how to drink wine.” “Whhhhhy did we get so many flour tortillas?!” “Are we going to have enough food for 35 people?” “WHERE’S THE CUMIN?” Every obstacle that presented itself, the girls jumped over it. Did we buy enough wine? No, but we pulled our personal stash to be served. Did we buy too many tortillas? Yes, but the next semester should be set for as many quesadillas as they want. We did in fact have enough food for everyone. And in the end, with only whole cumin seeds as an option, we had to roast the seeds and grind them by hand. The girls got that food out on that buffet table. They made sure that there was a drink in everyone’s hands. Everyone was satisfied. The guests were happy, the students were beaming. We could have ended the night there, but we didn’t.
The reward for all this hard work the girls had accomplished came as an impromptu live musical performance. Francesco Petrucci dusted out the old acoustic guitar, strumming the strings to a gentle Italian lullaby. Maurizio Antonini eventually turned his humming into a full-out sing-along with his old friend. Then our favorite barista owner, Paulo Fa, jumped in to join his band of brothers. Seeing these male figureheads of this program singing to our students out of gratitude and appreciation was a joyous occasion. The girls were overwhelmed with love, love for each other, and love for this opportunity to call Ariccia home. Good People. Good Food. Good Music. What else do you need? I know this is a concert myself nor the students will ever forget. We get to say that we were there. That we were there for the one-night-only performance of the Ariccia Boyz.
Ada Folmar (TA)