We Are America

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Photo ofCaleb Schmaeling

I was sitting on my bed when my parents dropped the bomb. “We’re moving to Italy.” I was shocked. I had lived in San Diego for 5 years and I’d known my friends since kindergarten. I’d been told we were staying here for 3 more years but the recruiter messed up and sent us to Naples, Italy. This wasn’t my first time moving. I had already lived in Florida and Rhode Island, but this was different. My Dad brought in a globe and showed us Italy. It was on the opposite side of the world. It was a 17-hour plane flight, and we would be staying for three years! I would have to learn an entirely new language. I was pretty disappointed but it was all talk until the movers came, that's when it got real. They came during the day when we were at school. When my siblings and I walked in the door we saw people taking our stuff and putting it in boxes. I didn't know what to think, our house looked so different. They were taking everything. It was upsetting for me and my siblings, so our neighbors brought us to the pool. We had fun with our friends and forgot about moving.  When we came back, we had to eat on the floor. Eventually, we moved into the Navy Lodge, which is a small hotel you can stay in when moving out. We stayed for a month until it was time to leave. I still remember our going away party. I can still remember watching my sad auntie and cousins fade into the distance through the back window of the car. It was time for the road trip. We drove from San Diego to Washington D.C., and since the car had a 9, 8, and 4-year old, we made a lot of stops. It ended up taking about a month. We also visited friends and family on the way.  We stopped to visit in Arizona, St. Louis, Texas, New York, and other places. Sometimes we just stopped because we needed to, like in New Mexico (the hotel in Albuquerque had an indoor water park, so that was a deciding factor too). We had lots of fun on our trip. Eventually, we made it to our family living in Dunkirk, Maryland (right outside D.C.). They were excited to see us but sad we were leaving so soon. Then one day, we got on a plane and flew from Dulles International to Frankfurt. After a layover, we flew to Naples. We arrived safe and sound but very tired and ready to go to sleep. Once we arrived, we had a friend show us around and bring us to the Navy Lodge in Italy. The very first night, we ended up sleeping until 11. We stayed in the Navy Lodge for about a month until we got our house. We (and by "we" I mean my parents) decided to live out in town 30 minutes away from the base which meant we would have to drive 30 minutes to get to school, soccer practice, swim practice, and the commissary. The redeeming value was the authentic Italian pizza place across the street from our house, so the driving time was forgotten once we bit into a delicious slice.  We lived in Italy for three years. I started the swim team and ended up going to the International championships.  My brother played soccer and went to Spain for a tournament, and my sister made many friends despite her initial reluctance to move. We made the most of our time and learned a lot. We moved again, and now we live in Kauai. Initially, it was disappointing leaving friends and family, but what I learned from moving is you make new friends, and most importantly, if you stick with it, things usually work out.

© Caleb Schmaeling. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.