Saturday, July 25, 2009

To the north

Okay, this was my last stop, so I finally will have you up-to-date. From Perugia I was sent to a small town called Decima. It is about 30 minutes outside of Bologna to the north, and it is fantastic. I know that each region of Italy is unique, but it has been so amazing to come all the way from San Remo to Sicily to Bologna, and actually experience it all. Decima was a much needed tranquility for me. The family I stayed with was fantastic (I know, I say these things about all the families, but believe it or not, it is possible to get a not-so-great family, so I'm trying to be really appreciative), and it was the first time my family had only girls. They have an adorable almost-5-year-old and an amazing 11-year-old, who was the best interpreter I've had yet here in Italy I think. My favorite thing about being up north is riding bicycles! It's very flat up here, and the towns have been smaller than the ones I was in down south. The schools have also been close, so the families give us bicycles to ride to school. This area is known for its watermelons and cantaloupe, and I definitely ate plenty of it just to make sure it was as good as they say. :)

I worked with an older class of students this week, and it's been really nice to be able to use full sentences, not just: "" Don't get me wrong, the little ones are fun and you can be a lot crazier with them, but it's nice to converse from time to time with a little more depth. This also was a new camp, and the director was very accomodating too. She will be doing a camp at the beginning of September for her high school students as well, and so I am hoping to return and work with her again in a few more weeks.

We didn't get to see much of Bologna (as I've shared with you my schedule), but I did get around a bit since that was where I had to go to find my meetings in English. This time of year in Italy everything changes, because almost everyone goes on vacation and they all go to the sea. So in the cities, it is much quieter. No to mention that on Sunday everyone is on vacation. But none of this has stopped me from having an amazing time. I was with two other female tutors at the camp, and the three of us had a great time hanging out together (in all our free time) and working together as well. Every town I go to, I consider the potential of settling in and establishing myself after the summer ends, and this definitely was high on my list of possibilities.

So this brings me now to my latest town, Vicenza. I am here for two weeks, and after this camp ends I get to go on holiday myself. I will be heading down to Rome the first weekend in August for a huge international religious convention at the Stadio Olimpico. So I will update you all on my time here in Vicenza when I start my break. I'm not sure yet where I will spend the first part of the week, but I've received several enticing offers, and so I'll keep you posted on what I do. Also, please feel free to drop me a comment on the blog! I'd love to hear from any and all of you, and know how life is going. You can either post a comment directly on this page, or you can email me. Hope you all are well! Ciao!

Here is Decima
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From Aversa to Perugia

I hope you are all reading this from the bottom to the top; I'm updating my weeks chronologically, so sorry for the confusion if you are reading this from the top (like a normal person would, I know)...

My week in Aversa came to a rather abrupt end. On Friday, we found out that the other four tutors from the camp would be sent to a summer camp the following week together, and I was going on my own to Perugia. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to go anywhere and I'm competent by myself, but after four weeks of travelling with Kim, always having a companion on the train, and now knowing in less than 24 hours I would have to say goodbye to my closest friend and partner in crime since I've been here, it was rough. Kim only had one more week of work anyway, and we had really hoped that we would get to stay together until she went back to Canada. But it wasn't to be, so we parted ways sadly in Rome, and I headed off for Perugia.

Let me give you a little sample of my week: on Sunday, you dive into a new family, town, and camp with a new director and tutors. You make a rough plan for the week, you figure out what group of children you will be working with, and you're trying to learn what you can about this hospitable family who has just taken you in. Monday comes roaring along, and by 8:30am you're gearing up for five days of non-stop games, activities, chaos, and speaking very slow, deliberate english to children. (All of this in the lovely, intense Italian sun too) By the time you get home around 6pm, you've got lessons to prepare for the next day, children in the family you are staying with who want to play and speak English, the family may even want to show you around town-oh yes, and you're probably very hungry. But you're also exhausted. Hopefully by Wednesday, things are somewhat routine, and you're starting to feel sanity coming back to you a bit. Before you know it, it's Friday afternoon, the kids are all excited to perform their English show, and you're saying goodbye to all your new friends. You spend Friday evening packing and enjoying the success of another week, and Saturday morning you're up early and saying goodbye to another family. You'll spend anywhere from 3-9 hours on the train Saturday and arrive at another station, where there will be excited people waiting to greet you and take you into their home-and you're exhausted. :) Don't get me wrong, I am having the time of my life, but it's so easy to get swept up in the whole experience and completely lose track of yourself and where you are.

So here I go, from Rome to Perugia, completely passed out on the train from an exhausting week (by the way, Friday night we didn't get home til 3am either); so asleep that the train attendant has to shake me to ask for my ticket. But I'm glad he did, because this ride turned out to be one of the most beautiful I have been on yet. We crossed to the east and a bit north, through canyons and valleys, and the most picturesque places you can hope for. It's funny because one of my favorite things is not having a clue about the next town I am going to. So as I ride along, everything is a surprise, and I have no preconceived ideas or expectations for what is to come. Perugia is beautiful, and I'd say the most sophisticated city I had been to yet. It's was so different to go from the coast to Umbria, deep in the heart of Italy. I stayed with a family with 6 children-yes, 6! and they were wonderful. What I love about big families is how everything can go on without you doing much. So somedays I would come home from camp and just watch life go on around me; it was beautiful. Their youngest, Giacomo, who is 5 years old, reminded me so much of my dear friend Clay back in California: his facial expressions, his manner of speaking, and his passion for life. Even after a full day of camp, it was always fun to come home and run around with him and make him laugh; there is nothing more pure than a child enjoying his life to the full.

I could tell you so many more stories, as usual, but I will stop here and move on to the next city. Oh yes, of course there is more...
Here is Perugia
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Where did July go?

Hello one and all-

I'm sorry I've been so lax on updating my journey. Internet access has been difficult and, as I think I mentioned before, we have such little time to do personal things! There's so much to update you on, I'll go back to where I left off last....

After two weeks in Palermo, my friend Kim and I were sent to Aversa, a small town just outside of Napoli. I've had my concerns about Napoli, seeing as everyone says if you're going to get mugged anywhere it will be there, but Aversa was absolutely a highlight for me. My family spoke NO english; I mean, outside of yes, no, and eat, we were really working off of gestures far more than words. I loved them! They were the kindest, friendliest people you would ever want to get to know. They were exceedingly hospitable, and ended up hosting two tutors for the week, due to a shortage of families willing to host. Staying with families who don't speak English is the best way for me to learn Italian, so I'm always thrilled when they tell me they don't speak English. At camp, we're not allowed to converse with the kids in Italian-after all, it is English camp-so when I get the opportunity at home, I'm thrilled.

The camp was fantastic too. It was the first year for this camp, and our director was amazing. She was so accomodating and great to work with-and insanely busy! She has two small boys at home, which is enough to keep anyone busy all the time. I think what was so great for me about the week was that everyone I met just took you in as part of their own family. Whether it was our director, our assistants, our families, even the students; everyday was such a great experience. Though I'm sure it helped that this was my third camp and I'm finally getting the hang of this chaotic life, I think Aversa will always stand out in my mind with fond memories. Here are pictures of me with my class, the other tutors I worked with that week-this was us saying goodbye in Rome :( and one of the puppies of the family I was staying with. How can you resist puppies!

Here is Aversa
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