The concept of CCI was born in 1990 when my family moved to the South of France. At the time, my three children were very young and I had taken a leave from my teaching career because my husband and I wanted to give our children a European experience for a few years. It was the tremendous change that I saw in their development that inspired me to open a Canadian school in Italy.
After teaching modern languages for sixteen years with the North York Board of Education in Ontario and accompanying students on school trips to Italy, I realized that nothing could compare with the kind of education that one receives while living away from home in a culturally rich environment and within a caring community of people. Up until that time I had received all my formal education in Canada. I graduated from the University of Toronto, Innis College, in 1973 with a Degree in Physical and Health Education and a minor in Modern Languages. I continued to Teachers College at OISE - The University of Toronto in 1974 and while I was in France I completed an MBA degree from The University of Southern Europe (now IUM) with a specialization in Finance. All of my children would eventually graduate from CCI and follow in my footsteps to study at U of T at Innis College for their first degrees and international institutions for their further degrees.
Students have told me through the years that one of the most important aspects of CCI is residence living. This accords them the opportunity to develop independence while at the same time forging life long friends and preparing them for future university life. Naturally, the other essential element is the guidance and expertise of dedicated and caring teachers. Vital also to the Italian cultural experience students take part in unforgettable school trips; they visit the most important cities of Italy as well as other European destinations as optional trips. Besides furnishing beautiful memories, the travel grants them exposure to some of the world’s most precious artwork and these trips develop in the student a worldliness and maturity well beyond their years.
The emotional impact of attending CCI follows the pattern of a lifelong series of separation from family and subsequent gain. We realize that in the course of our lives we leave, we are left, and we let go of many things we’ve come to love. Although painful at times, these patterns are the source of much of our growth. We cannot become separate, responsible, reflective people without these tribulations of leaving and letting go. The maturity that develops in young people attending CCI derives a great deal from this experience of separation.
I would like to quote one of our students reflection about her year at CCI.
“Because of CCI, I now know that the things that scare us the most, the things that require the biggest leap of faith are the most rewarding and unforgettable.”
In closing I would like to leave you with a thought on this process of risk taking, recently attributed to Alan Alda.
“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can't get there by bus, only by hard work and risk, and by not quite knowing what you're doing, but what you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself. "
Our school motto Perge et Valeas was chosen because it reflects the spirit of this quote. It translates from Latin into “If you proceed you shall succeed”
Marisa DiCarlo D’Alessandro