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,
Elizabeth

5 comments:

Deirdré Straughan said...

Maybe what trips people up is constantly wondering "Am I doing this right?" Losing that self-consciousness can only help. That's why we all speak foreign languages better after a glass or two of wine. ; )

ReSet Coach said...

Your blog really touched me, its so beautiful how "perfect" all of us are in a very special way...

Fern Driscoll said...

I LOVE this - first that all four of you were together. Perhaps that doesn't happen often, and it must have been very special, just for that. And then your sister - it seems to me that Italians treat those with handicaps (physical, mental, whatever) much more respectfully and openly than we did in the U.S. The acceptance is on a different order. In the US we say, 'you are different but we accept you and accommodate you' (setting up a you-us relationship; here it seems more like, 'we are all one family' (us-us). And what you say is so true - everyone is gifted in one way or another. Your sister sounds like a strong, intuitive and altogether lovely person. Thank you for sharing this story...

Paul said...

I haven't checked in here in a while, and was so pleased to read this very moving entry. Take care.

Learn Italian said...

Hi Elizabeth, great blog. Kim from http://www.italianpod101.com sent you an email. Let me know when you get a chance to read. Thanks!