Today’s guest blogger is a former student, Luke Jorwic. Luke studied here last Spring. He was one of the students I got to know extremely quickly and maybe too well. Not only because I could hear and see his dorm room parties from my living room across the courtyard, but because he became one of my “projects.” One of my favorite things to do is to frequent the common hangout spots on campus and kick students out. I push the stroller through the coffee bar or library and “yell” at the students to get out of here. I remind them that they are “in ROME for goodness sake, so stop wasting time here and go get to know her!” It’s easy to get stuck in our comfy Information Commons. Luke was a regular in the IC. I first thought he was obsessed with perfect grades and was constantly studying. I quickly learned he’s addicted to real estate and can’t keep away from listings. Anyway after MANY occasions of forcing him to get out to explore, he became a quick friend. Now he feels more like family. It doesn’t help that he’s become one of Annie’s aunt Rachel’s best friends. He’s constantly in touch with us and we are so glad he is part of our lives. His words are overwhelming, even just his title brings tears to my eyes. We love you Luke and we think you are 110% cooler than us! Thank you for being a guest blogger.
The Eternal Gift I Found in the Eternal City
When I moved to Rome, there were a few things I was expecting. I expected to travel around, drink some wine, “study”, and hopefully have some experiences I would never forget.
What I didn’t expect was to find friends that I would think of every day and people so far from home who reminded me so much of my family. When I had the chance to meet the Beazley family I instantly thought we would be friends. Well really, I hoped I would have a chance to get to know them, that they would think I was at least 10% as cool as I thought them.
When I first met Mike, Colleen and baby Annie I was delighted to see a family living on campus, and saw the way they interacted with all of us students on campus as a real gift. They weren’t just a family living on campus in case Mike had an emergency; they were the heart of the campus family. Now when I met baby Annie, I was instantly pulled to her, as we all were, and also to the parents that were surrounding her. Not just doting on her, but providing her with experiences that I knew would last her a lifetime.
I instantly felt connected to the Beazleys as they reminded me so much of my family back home. My older brother Chris has Autism, a fact that enriches and shapes my perspective on life every day, and seeing this budding family working through a diagnosis in such an amazing understated way while thousands of miles away from family left me amazed. I knew we shared the same perspectives and viewpoints without ever having to discuss them. This connection is one I hadn’t ever felt before.
Watching my fellow students interact with Annie on a daily basis made me happy each time, and seeing Mike and Colleen fearlessly answering questions about Annie’s disabilities furthered my faith in the future for individuals with disabilities. An outlook that for a lot of my life growing up wasn’t always so positive.
There is one particular night, on one particular terrace that I will never forget. It was a really transformational conversation for me and my experience with disabilities; cementing everything I’ve come to believe in over my last 20 years as a sibling to an individual with a disability. Colleen and I talked about every side of every issue that could possibly face a family with a child with a disability.
I finally verbalized what I had always known and thought. That my brothers diagnosis was a gift, one I would never ask to give back, and that it had enriched my family immeasurably. The gift of that realization is one I can never repay, and I was so happy to share it with the matriarch of my favorite Roman family. I can’t even fathom all of the amazing things the Beazley’s are going to do, boundaries they will tear down, and lives they will each individually touch, but I cannot wait to sit back and watch Colleen, Mike and their sweet baby Annie.