Once every three years, the International Board of Education of Young Witches and Wizards meet, every time in a new location; on this year, they gathered in Vienna, Austria. They held a grand conference, to which they invited various heads of schools from around the world – the International Conference of Magical Education. It was considered to be a great honour to be invited, and many schools ached to be asked, but only a couple of hundred earned such an invitation, and only fifty stayed for the full six days.
Albus Dumbledore was enjoying himself as he wandered down the buffet laid out; Minerva McGonagall didn't seem quite so enthralled by the layout. As he helped himself to some Japanese sweets, he noticed a man and a woman speaking to each other. The man (who was getting on in years, judging by his white head of hair, but not yet near his own ripe age) seemed a little bored and impatient as the woman next to him, a rather short, round lady with carefully curled hair, tittered on to some fellow educators. The two were clearly at the conference together, but he appeared to have a thick Canadian accent, while hers was rather mixed (letting alone her heavy lisp).
Tapping Minerva's elbow, he gently guided her over to the man and introduced himself. The man, George Redmond, introduced himself as the headmaster of a rather interesting school – the Canadian Academy Italy. From the sound of it, it was a small boarding school for witches and wizards between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, but based in Italy.
"It's all rather complex, to be perfectly honest, Mr. Dumbledore," said George. "The school originally started as a school for Canadian students whose parents are members of the military or government based in Europe. It's more open now though, and greatly international; we have a mix of at least fifteen nationalities at the moment, a large part of which are Spanish-speakers.
"The difficult part though, is that the school is based in the center of a large town in southern Italy. The students live in two buildings - residences (one for boys and one for the girls) - and another building is our main school, where classes and most other extra-curricular activities take place. The problem is the muggles living around these buildings; we have dozens of charms set up, and hundreds of rules, with strict punishments for infractions, but it's a little taxing sometimes, if you know what I mean?" Dumbledore nodded sagely at this point, but motioned for the man to carry on.
"We follow the Ontario education curriculum, but as many of our students come from other countries, it take some time for them to catch up. We have also decided to teach common pre-muggle-university classes too, as we have a few squibs attending. A surprising amount of our magically gifted students also choose to take these classes too, so we try to keep them fairly equally balanced. In recent years, more students have been decided to go on to muggle universities, rather than sticking solely to magic."
"That's actually quite fascinating," interjected Albus, "I personally have always been rather intrigued by the muggle education system, and how it works. What sort of lessons do you offer?"
"Mainly international ones – classes that students from any country would understand and be interested in. We offer a fairly broad range like Canadian and International Law (which includes both wizarding and muggle law), Canadian History (again with both wizarding and muggle), Classical Civilizations (just muggle this time), various mathematics and science courses, of ranging levels, English and Italian, philosophy and world religions. Sometimes we also offer courses in art and drama too."
Albus blinked, "That's quite a large… variety,"
"We also have the typical magical studies like potions and charms on top of that!" George laughed, dropping a friendly hand on Albus' shoulder. "It's no worry though as we don't have them all at once. We, in Canada, work by the semester system; students only take four classes per semester and our school in particular lives by that. Most students, nowadays, attend CAI (Canadian Academy Italy) for only a semester or two, simply for the experience of living in Italy."
The two headmasters continued chatting for the rest of the evening, exchanging interesting aspects of their respective schools and curriculums, and the odd story of past students and incidents. Finally came the end of the conference and the two, rather regretfully, parted ways; Albus, however, took clear note in his mind to keep up correspondence with the Canadian.
Two days later, in the small town of Lanciano, George Redmond was standing the atrium of CAI giving the morning announcements. Marissa Marconi stood slightly behind him - ready to launch into a complete recount of the conference the two had just gotten back from. He couldn't forget the strange man he'd met, Albus Dumbledore; he'd been fascinating to meet in person (of course he'd studied him in school), and had had no end of interesting stories and an endless repertoire of funny tales and quips. The old wizard had been so interested in CAI, though, and had constantly asked him questions about it, wanted to garner as much about the school as possible; he'd seemed particularly interested in his variety of students, especially those who chose to take the muggle classes and go on to university.
This thought clung to him, even after announcements were over, when he was sitting in his office. He thought of one student in particular, who was simply attending the school by day, as she lived near Lanciano. Born and raised in Ireland, she'd moved to Italy with her family – what was it, five years ago? – and had attended an Italian muggle school before coming to CAI. Her sister, though, had gone to CAI for almost four years before graduating; she still had another year and a half to go before graduating, as she was still only sixteen.
He wondered why she hadn't gone to Hogwarts; it was a famous wizarding school after all – the best in the world it was rumored, although only students from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland attended it. She'd only started CAI last year, but was easily the one of – if not the – brightest students in the history of the school. There were, admittedly only sixty-three students this semester, but she was above and beyond most of the others. This semester she was taking Advanced Functions, International Muggle and Wizarding Law, English and Potions 12 – a heavy load, in his opinion, never having been one for numbers and measurements.
Something that Albus had said came to him then:
"It would be fascinating to see our students reactions to such different schooling!"
He was right, it would be interesting; perhaps others would think so too. A teacher maybe? or a student? maybe even a parent would like to hear about it…
Quickly taking down some notes, he studied them carefully before typing a quick letter to his new friend. He emailed the letter to post office to owl to the older wizard with a small smile on his face.
Just a small authors note here to explain the gist of what's going on here. CAI is actually my school, and most of the info about it is true (apart from the magic stuff – obviously – and the name is actually a little different). You can send me a private message if you're interested in it! It's not a bad school, and the freedom the school gives you is great.
Next chapter will be more on the exchange idea and perhaps even some Marauders in there! I might start putting in some teaser-trailers of the next chapter if people seem to like the idea of the story! I'll try to make the next chapters at least 2,000 words long too!