Andrew MacAdam, carpentry teacher from Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.
The word “awesome” seems to be over-used in today’s society. But “awesome” is the word I have to use to explain my experience at the Willowbank Italy Field School 2013. In my career as a carpenter, wood has been the material I work with of course, and after initially reading the newsletter from Willowbank about the field school I didn’t think this type of course was relevant to my work. Wow, was I wrong! Besides the benefit of expanding my knowledge I think wood and stone share a lot of similarities, but I want to focus on the field school experience.
After quickly mulling it over on my way out the door to work I decided I needed a break from wood. Little did I know that there were tree stumps waiting in Italy that we would have to remove so we could build our project. The root systems of the stumps invaded the stonewalls like tentacles. Wow! But that’s another great field school story.
Arriving in this part of Italy, the beauty of the place is overwhelming and in one word, “bliss” would describe our villa accommodations. Our hosts at the Villa Raghezzi, Ken and Kali, were awe-inspiring individuals with a love for the land, air, spirit and a respect for generations past. They inspired me every day. The abandoned village of Ghesc, where we would build our project was a tranquil place of mystery and beauty. We would learn new skills from the village keeper Maurizio and the master builder Lorenzo. In the time spent sweating under the beautiful Italian sun working with stone and tools in my hands, we were creating a continued use for the village from the past. Sometimes sore at the end of the day, but a good sore that you get from building and satisfaction looking back at your group’s accomplishments of the end of the day.
We had other quality learning time spent in the upper classroom at the Villa. We shared thoughts and ideas motivated out of us from our wise and gifted leader Julian. I now have an understanding and appreciation of the cultural landscapes that surround us all.
The time and experience together as a group came to an end. We all shared a feeling of pride in our achievements during our time together and we completed our goal. Ghesc is a place that we hope to return to someday perhaps, but if not, we know that others will now have a place within a place to gather, meditate, celebrate, and think of the past.
I have purposely written this in a way to not reveal everything, just as the village of Ghesc didn’t reveal all its secrets to us. Perhaps you will be inspired to follow the links like a treasure map and find yourself at this wonderful field school so you can experience the awesomeness as well.