As foreshadowed, I have relinquished all of my tasks at the Dante Alighieri Society in light of my impending move to Sydney after living in Canberra for thirty-six years and being closely associated with the Dante for the past seventeen years.
Many of you will know that over many of these seventeen years I have taken responsibility for coordinating formal courses and conversation evenings, for the cultural program, for the newsletter, for some of the marketing and advertising; that I led a conversation group all these years, and that I was the link between the Dante Committee and the wonderful Dante Musica Viva choir of which I’ve been a member since its foundation in 2005.
My last project for the Society, of which I am particularly proud, was the preparation of a booklet on the Society’s history to mark its 60th anniversary. This has involved a lot of research, interviews, writing, selection of photos and working with the graphic designer and printer. The booklet was launched at the reception held at the ambassador’s residence on 16 June to celebrate the Society’s important landmark.
It was at this event that our president Professor Franco Papandrea, in recognition of my contribution to the Society over a long period, kindly presented me with a Life Membership certificate and a magnificent edition of the Divine Comedy illustrated with the beautiful images of Gustave Doré. Nice words were said about me by Franco and I take this opportunity to thank him and the Committee for their thoughtfulness in marking the end of an important chapter in my life in Canberra.
I leave this city and the Society with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am looking forward to starting a new chapter in Sydney: being near my lovely daughter Natasha and her black toy poodle Tiger; doing some writing and pursuing some personal projects; extending the time I spend every year in my hometown in Friuli; and hopefully enjoying some down-time if I manage to avoid being drawn into committees – although the Dante Society of Sydney has already approached me about joining its Committee!
On the other hand, I am going to miss a lot of Canberra’s life: first and foremost the Dante choir which has given me so much joy and friendship over the last twelve years; then the direct contact I had (through the conversation evenings and cultural activities) with Dante students/members who love Italy’s language and culture; my direct involvement in important events of the Italian community including those organised by the Ambassador; the reporting of such events for the Italian newspaper La Fiamma thereby demonstrating that Canberra was an interesting and thriving place; and the many friendships and acquaintances I have made through my involvement is so much of the Italian life of Canberra. For all these opportunities and experiences, I feel very blessed.
I am now saying farewell to all of you, dear members. I hope you will maintain your interest and enthusiasm for Italy’s beautiful language and culture, and your support for our great Society.
And a big thank you to Franco Papandrea for his long-standing commitment to the Society: he was already on the committee when I joined it in the year 2000!