Tuesday, April 16, 2024

From the Tuscan hills to the world

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Diplomat Magazine
Diplomat Magazinehttp://www.diplomatmagazine.eu
DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands. Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. "Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions." Dr. Mayelinne De Lara, Publisher

By Alexandra Paucescu

Italy has always been one of my favorite family holiday destinations. All our Italian trips were filled with sunny weather, gorgeous sceneries, warm and friendly people and, of course, delicious food… a real threat to my diet… My fascination for this beautiful country, to which we, as Romanians, are strongly related by ancient historical ties, determined me to learn the language and get in touch with Italian expat communities everywhere we moved.

Although I never met her in person, Francesca Andreini captivated me from the very beginning. A cultivated woman, born in Florence and with various artistic interests, she has managed to define her role into the diplomatic world and find her own path, while accompanying her diplomatic husband.

Francesca Andreini and spouse.

From native Florence and the beautiful, beloved hills surrounding it, to Rome and later on to Syria, Senegal, USA and Thailand, there has been a beautiful life journey sprinkled with family events, parables and experiences that completed the marvelous and accomplished woman (also a mother of three) that she is today.

‘My first jobs were in television production and advertising. At that time, my husband joined the Italian diplomatic service. I was fiercely against it at the beginning, the idea of losing my world, my identity, terrified me, but eventually he managed to persuade me. It was not easy for me to adapt to diplomatic life, to find my own sense of purpose. It was a gradual process.’

It takes strength and a determined mind to be able to adapt to such frequent moves. I have often struggled myself to find a meaningful way to express myself, during the diplomatic postings. What also troubles me is the change of role and identity that you feel when you return to your home country, where you have a different status and a different dynamic of life.

Francesca tells me: ‘I had a desire to build something that was truly mine, that could not be taken away from me at each moving. That’s how I began writing, about 15 years ago.  At first, there were stories for a literary review, Zibaldoni, and then my two novels: Nessuno ti può costringere (QuiEdit, 2009) and Primi anni a WDC (Edizioni del Gattaccio, 2015). The latter has also been translated and released in the USA, under the title Under American Skies (New Academia Publishing, 2021). In Rome, I also wrote some screenplays, venturing into a whole new and exciting field. My script, Senza me, received recognition of cultural interest in 2010 by the Ministry of Culture and a grant for its production. In Washington DC I joined a business networking association and co-created ParoLab, a club that promoted Italian literature in the U.S., through a reading group, literary events and book presentations.’

As you are now reading her story, I am sure you can easily understand how active and committed she is to her projects.

‘When I moved back to Rome, my passion for literature translated into creating more cultural events, some literary readings and workshops on creative writing. The latter inspired my video tutorials on “How to overcome writer’s block” (available on YouTube in Italian under the title “Come superare il blocco dello Scrittore”, with English subtitles). In Thailand, I made my past experience available to the Embassy, providing benevolent help on several projects, such as editing an anthology of Italian-Thai short stories and then publishing short videos inspired by them, also producing a documentary about the Italian architectural heritage in Bangkok. In the meantime I’ve been teaching Italian culture and literary history at Chulalongkorn University as a guest lecturer, I’ve continued to contribute to Zibaldoni and have occasionally held some conferences both in Italy and Thailand.’

I can see that her years abroad have been extremely dynamic and fulfilling. But that’s because she made them this way and turned the downsides of diplomatic life into her advantages. Francesca says: ‘I always managed to find my own space, to give life to my own projects. It was indeed very time and energy-consuming having to start all over again at each new posting but, on the other hand, every country I have lived in has taught me something important, offering me precious opportunities of inner growth.

The most common false stereotype is that diplomatic life is easy, with plenty of comfort and luxury.

It is in many ways a difficult life, requiring sacrifices on a personal level, especially from spouses. Giving up your career, the job which defines you socially and provides you with independent revenue, in exchange for a gregarious role, is not easy. The diplomatic career often takes you to countries where daily life is difficult, where there are dangers and diseases you are not used to. And then, there is the difficulty of being far away from one’s country, one’s family and old friends. When my parents grew old and my mother became ill, living on the opposite side of the ocean was a cause for enormous stress for me.

While the role of a spouse is very important, it’s generally underestimated and usually taken for granted that we are there and provide all the support we can to our consorts. We don’t usually receive any kind of training, guidelines or support from our own country. On top of re-organizing the life of the entire family abroad, spouses often have a busy schedule that includes events they hold themselves. In addition, through their informal contacts, spouses are often able to create a network of acquaintances which can be quite valuable for their consorts. In short, being a diplomatic spouse is a real profession that requires care, commitment, time and skills. It is unfortunate that it does not have a proper recognition.’

Wise words coming from years of experience and also, no doubt, from a strong and wise philosophy of life… in her own words… ‘my strength is having a soft spot for everything’.

About the author:

Alexandra Paucescu

Alexandra Paucescu-
 Author of “Just a Diplomatic Spouse” Romanian, management graduate with a Master in business, cultural diplomacy and international relations studies.

She speaks Romanian, English, French, German and Italian,  gives lectures on intercultural communication and is an active NGO volunteer.

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