Prime Minister Stephen Harper's trip to Italy on Friday included a meet and greet with 80 Canadian high school students studying in Italy this summer.
The kids are there with the Centro Scuola e Cultura Italians, which allows Canadian kids of Italian descent the chance to study in Italy each summer.
I'm sure there were many political reasons for his doing so -- reaching out to Italian Canadian voters back home by meeting with their kids in Italy being just one.
And I'm sure for Harper the visit was a welcome relief from the intensity of the G8 meetings and the number of small but water-cooler-talk-generating issues he's hit this week.
The students were unlikely to ask him if he ate the communion wafer or why he was late for the group G8 photo.
But I couldn't help but think how rare it is for Canadians to get a chance to meet a prime minister in Canada itself. That is not a knock on Harper -- it's just the reality of the job of prime minister that while you get to meet a lot of people, most people in Canada will never get near you.
His meeting with Canadian students in Italy reminded me of when I was in high school, and one of my classmates was on a study-abroad year. She hailed from England. Mid-way through the school year Prince Edward showed up to hand out some awards and for some reason my high school was involved in the visit. We were in a performance group that was part of the entertainment at a gala dinner and the next morning we were invited to attend a brunch with the prince.
I will never forget my friend laughing about the fact that she'd lived in England all her life, and yet had to come to Canada to meet a member of the royal family.