Almost like being there. Work placements and parents

By Ute Hallaschka, September 2014

The scar will remain for the rest her life. Every summer, as her skin goes brown, this little whit spot remains. It comes from the social placement. A pane of glass had broken. I no longer remember the exact circumstances, only the seconds of worry on the telephone. But my child immediately reassured us: she had been at the doctor, tetanus injection, everything alright. We shouldn’t make such a fuss. Come home? Of course not!

The friendship with the two people who farm a Demeter farm in a remote mountain village in Ticino will last a lifetime. It developed during the farming work placement. Over the years she often visited the place; it became a little bit of home: the first place in the whole wide world she had conquered by herself: the friends, the village, the whole valley.

I have never been there, but my imagination is full of all the stories I have heard about it. One is about the cows who were flown to the inaccessible pastures by helicopter. I have difficulty picturing it but the story will stay with me for the rest of my life.

And then there were the bees. I have forgotten exactly which work placement that was. But not the calm, deep light in the eyes of my child when she returned – that will remain in my soul for every.

There has been a buzzing outside my kitchen window for the last few days. Wild bees are at work establishing a colony in the box for the roller blind. That’s wonderful, says my daughter on the telephone, and forbids me to do anything that will drive them away. So we live peacefully alongside one another. I smoke at the open kitchen window but that does not seem to bother these wild creatures.

My child has long left home; the traces of her experiences remain inscribed in everyday life. What remains of her school days is their quality, not the material which dissipates and renews itself throughout life. Destiny is at work in work placements. Be they in New Zealand or down the road, what matters is what we make of them as a way to discover the world.

About the author: Ute Hallaschka is a freelance writer

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