Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Arms Raised...In Blessing...Apparently

This afternoon, we had a little going away assembly for the Italians. "The Italians" is how everyone refers to the kids from our sister school in Italy, who have been spending two weeks with us here in California. (We send a group to Italy in the spring.) The Italians visit classes, go on field trips, and break the hearts of our boys. A good time is had by all.

Anyway, we assembled all the kids in the gym/auditorium, and said farewell. One of the school's many little rock bands performed, and there was a slide show showing the Italians in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, and eating ice cream with their host families.

Then our school director, Father Q, asked everyone to rise to their feet, so we did. And Father Q asked everyone to hold our Italian exchange students in our hearts in prayer, and to extend our right arms in blessing to them...so the kids did.

Gym full of kids in bleachers. Standing. Right arms extended out and up from the body at approximately a forty-five degree angle. You got the picture? All it really needed to COMPLETE the picture was a hearty shout of 'heil Hitler!', or possibly in this case 'noi tireremo dritto!'.

Of course, no one could have mistaken us for a Hitler youth rally, not least because the kids are not so good at this maneuver, and only about eighty-five percent of them successfully extend, some have their arms out at shoulder level, and others fail to salute...er...bless. Also, the kids are wearing Catholic high school polos, and are mostly Latino or black, but...uh...er...the visual was very vivid anyway.

And all I could think, as we prayed--me with both hands extended in a sort of candlighting gesture--was that what I really prayed was that the Italian kids would not think we were making fun of them.

Apparently they didn't take offense, because they filed out smiling and waving, while our kids yelled 'arrivederci!' and a few of the boys looked tearful that the really hot one was going back to Italy.

Oh. My. God.

Should I say something? I did comment to one of the staff people, in passing, and she knew exactly what I meant, and said she always used her left hand because of that--perhaps we could teach the kids a different gesture of blessing?

1 comment:

Nella said...

That has to be scary. Good thing your twin school isn't in Germany, i guess.