July 30, 2009

Intelligent people

I've had guests -- all four sisters together in Rome for the first time! I'm the oldest, but it was the third who instigated the trip. Although she suffered brain damage at birth, she continues to grow and develop and regularly surprise us all. At her annual assesment meeting she put forward her next goal -- to visit me in Italy with her sisters. So we made it happen.

Ok, she is missing some cognitive intelligence, but she sure made up for it in social and cultural intelligence -- enough to turn our heads and exchange smiles of amusement and admiration over and over again.

She gleaned social clues from the environment and interacted with others with fearless sincerity that led to amazing results. She learned key words (grazie, ciao and "il conto") and used them appropriately. She watched and mirrored greetings by always shaking hands and saying "ciao" (also during the taking leaving process). She bought items at a street market in Sabaudia without understanding a word but reading accurately the sign language of business. Shopkeepers and waiters responded to her presence with respectful service ("...forse la signora preferisce questo piatto...").

She was flexible with the new time schedule, open to new food and meal habits, willing to try anything, mindful of body language and not even disoriented by the strange language around her, and the strange toilets (no two alike).

So, we all have our strengths, some in the cognitive sphere, others in the emotional and social arena and some have a knack for crossing cultures with aplomb.

a domani,