In 2009, on September 27th, Daniela Cavallero’s mother passed away. Lina Tonello was a woman who strongly encouraged Daniela throughout her life. This inspiration and support lead Daniela to open the Italian school known to all of us as Sentieri.
In 2009, to honor her mother’s memory, Daniela had instituted an annual scholarship for a free Italian course here at Sentieri.
The upcoming scholarship’s requirements for application are for a current or potential student to submit a brief paragraph about his or her own mother (in Italian or English) to firstname.lastname@example.org. All applications must be submitted for review by September 27th, 2017. The recipient of the scholarship must use it towards a course within a year of the award. Thank you for helping us honor a great woman.
The recipient of the scholarship for 2017 was Stephanie Linton, who wrote a remarkable tribute to her mother. Below is her entry.
A Tribute to My Mother, Christine Chung
By Stephanie Linton
Strong, intelligent, independent, warm, and personable: my mother, Christine Chung, is all of these and so much more. Born in Hong Kong during the turbulent 50s and raised along with six siblings in the midst of Mao’s communist regime in China, my mom had no choice but to be courageous and strong. Coming from a poor family, when she was 12, my mother would wake up at 4 a.m. to help her mother sell fish at the open air market. Since having enough food on the table was a priority, my mother discontinued her education as soon as she finished middle school. She worked alongside her mother until the age of 17 when she decided to seek a better life in the United States. Since she could not obtain legal papers, my mother’s only choice was to take a boat to the U.S. illegally. Chung Chun Ming, as my mother was called in China, eventually landed in New York City’s Ellis Island, ending up in Philadelphia, where she immediately began working in a small Chinese restaurant in a bad part of town. Every month, my mother would put aside money and send it back home to her family. Over the next two years, she worked hard to save enough money to get the documents needed in order to move her entire family to the U.S.
All through her life, my mother has persevered and struggled in order to provide a better life for her family. When her mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the young age of 62, my mother had to balance work, raise me, and take care of her mother. When her father was later diagnosed with lung cancer and Alzheimer’s, she did not hesitate to do the same. Anytime her brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews needed help, she would do everything she could to ensure they had support. She has consistently been a giver in her lifetime, but one that is strong and courageous. And as for me, she has instilled values that reflect how she has always lived her life — to have integrity, to be honest, to be frugal, to be grateful, to never be afraid to ask questions or take risks, and to help others when possible. Because of her, I have achieved all the things she never had the chance to — I finished high school, attended college, found a good job that didn’t involve sweltering in a kitchen, and married a loving husband. I often think about the huge debt I owe my mother and how I couldn’t possibly pay her back. And when I tell her this, she just smiles and tells me that seeing me happy is all the payback she ever needed.