CLEW talks to Luxembourgers abroad. Meet Fausto Gardini, living in Jacksonville, Florida.
1. When did you move away from Luxembourg, whereto and why?
I moved from Luxembourg to Paris, France in 1982, after spending 12 years with LUXAIR, to work for an international company delivering communications and computer services to airlines. In 1984, I transferred to Atlanta, Georgia, in charge of the worldwide marketing of the company’s airlines fare reference & electronic fare quotation service (AIRFARE). This activity brought me to visit 98 countries around the globe in the successful promotion of the service to over 100 airlines. I was able to retire comfortably at age 51 to pursue personal interests. My wife, two cats and I moved to St. Simons Island, an island off the coast of Georgia where we resided for five years, before moving to Jacksonville, Florida in 2006 as we wanted to get back to a city, preferably on the coast.
2. What do you miss the most and the least from Luxembourg?
Come to think of it, what I miss most from Luxembourg has to do with sensory pleasures: foods, smells, sites. I miss dandelion salad (Bettseechesch Zalot) in the spring and smelling a bakery’s pastry area (pastries, such as Kaffiskichelcher: Aachtchen, Äppeltäsch, Schneck, and my favorite: Quetschentaart). I miss wine and the fried fish (eng frîture) on the Moselle River and many other local pleasures of the palate too long to enumerate. For sites, when in Luxembourg, I love to drive around in the Oesling area.
What I miss the least: the weather!
3. What do you appreciate most and least about your new country?
I appreciate the most the opportunities afforded to me in the United States, both in the professional field as well as in the pursuit of private endeavors, allowing me to achieve goals that I could not have attained in Luxembourg, Europe.
I appreciate the least: the US tax system!
4. What was the biggest challenge / change for you moving to a different country?
Materially, I had no problems since my company took care of all visa and transfer formalities and provided a generous package facilitating setting up a household with everything that that entails, from pots and pans to furniture and all amenities.
Since I have always been of an introverted nature I did not have many close friends in Luxembourg and was a little detached from my relatives too. Over time though, I have come to miss the few friends and my relatives back in Luxembourg. Thanks to frequent visits to Luxembourg, the Internet and social media, bonds have been re-established and daily exchanges are now in order.
5. How often do you come back to Luxembourg and have you considered coming back for good?
My wife, a U.S. citizen, and I visit Luxembourg at least once a year, sometimes twice. I have no plans to return to Luxembourg for good… unless we get an offer we cannot refuse, but that’s very unlikely!
6. In what other ways do you keep in touch with Luxembourg?
As a board member of the Luxembourg American Cultural Society (LACS) since 2005, I have had the opportunity to meet and mingle with 5th and 6th generation descendants of immigrants from Luxembourg to the United States, as well as with recent immigrants (these days more likely referred to as expats). Those experiences coupled with a keen interest in history, genealogy and human travails have led to a series of regular lectures both in the United States and Luxembourg and the publication of books covering a multitude of events, facts, trivia and essays of interest to an audience on both sides of the Atlantic*On behalf of the Luxembourg American Cultural Society (LACS) I translated Roger Krieps’ book of 1963 ‘Luxemburger in America’ from German to English in 2013 as its 50th anniversary edition.
7. A shout out to (somebody in) Luxembourg?
To my sister, Nella in Differdange, her son Christian, wife Christine, son Sam in Christnach and nephew Luca in Pontpierre: Bis geschwenn (see you soon)!
Fausto Gardini, interviewed by Unni Holtedahl, May 2014
*Except for ‘St. Donatus – A Luxembourg Village in Iowa’ published in 2007 (sold out), Fausto Gardini’s books of the series ‘Luxembourg On My Mind’ (Volume I and Volume II), ‘The American Aunt’, ‘Storms Over Luxembourg’ and my latest ‘365 Moments In Time’ are available both in Luxembourg bookstores and via amazon.com. ‘Storms Over Luxembourg’ and ‘Luxembourg Under Fire’ are available as e-books.