Canada Day has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean I can’t write about patriotism on the road. And no, that’s not a contradiction. Just because someone (me) leaves their home country (Canada) doesn’t mean they don’t love it. Let me say it loud and clear: although I’ve chosen to be in Italy, I’m very proud to be Canadian. This picture is proof; I was so happy to find this Maple Tree on Lake Maggiore in Italy last summer… I exclaimed with delight and instantly snatched a leaf to take a picture while my friend snapped a shot of the whole ordeal. Please note the older lady in the background silently racking her brain for the phone number of the nearest mental institute, because she clearly thinks I’m insane….
This year, in honour of my fine country’s birthday, I brought Canadian treats into my office – Ice Wine- filled chocolates. In the shape of a Maple Leaf, no less! My Italian co-workers were all impressed by the flavour, and I’m now thinking of becoming an Ice Wine exporter to Italy, due to the entusiasmo with which they enquired about the chocolates’ gooey filling.
So while I celebrated Canada Day abroad, it got me thinking about how, right before I leave to go to a foreign country, I always like to brush up on my Canadiana. People have a lot of misconceptions about Canada, and I’ve heard some doozies. It’s always snowy! Polar bears walk through the streets! It doesn’t get warm, therefore we must not be used to wearing summer clothes! Ice fishing is a myth, because surely the fish are all frozen in winter! If you throw a bucket of water out it freezes before it hits the ground, even in July! I often find myself talking about Canada, telling people how beautiful it is, how expansive it is, making sure they know I don’t have a pet penguin…
And all this talking about home makes me appreciate it more. Siena is a great city and Italy is a great country, but I find myself missing the fresh water lakes of southern Ontario, late-night Poutine snacks, the sound of our National Anthem, and the beauty of our Maple Leaf flying on a flagpole. Even though someone chooses to temporarily transplant him or herself to another country, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re denying their home country the spot it deserves in their heart. We should all be proud of where we come from (especially if we’re Canadian!) and I find joy in exchanging patriotic tidbits with others I meet on the road, teaching and learning alike.