Sunday, November 1, 2009

Grand Finale

I know it's taken me a while to share the last part of my work this summer. It's hard for me to put into words what an amazing experience it was, and the last week was like the perfect finish to it all. It was a pretty big deal: ACLE has just started doing camps for high school students. At this age and level, it's a totally different experience, because they're not too interested in games, and most of the songs are too childish. You have to think on your feet and have A LOT planned, because their English is good; they just need someone to bring it out of them. So ACLE picked seven tutors very carefully for this camp. I had already worked with one of the directors, and she requested me back, so I got to be in on the fun. I had no idea what I was in for...
First, the tutor crew was fantastic. I had worked with a few of them, been trained by others, and we built such a rapport and environment by the end of the week. Some of the tutors who come, they just want to spend a month in Italy, or they were traveling around and wanted to make some extra money on the side. Not this bunch; these guys were devoted teachers, mentors, and hilarious entertainers. Every day was something new and crazy, and the students were having even more fun than we were. That was the second great part: my class. I had a group of 9-10th and 11th graders who really knew their stuff. They were respectful, intelligent, and you felt more like their friend than their mother (after working with 5-year olds, that was a big change for me). They kept me laughing and working hard all week, and I loved it. We made them do crazy things, as the pictures testify too, but I haven't had so much fun in a long time. Third, the show was....well, amazing would be an understatement. One of the directors managed to score the local theater for us free of charge. So we had a stage, lighting, mics, props, music-and a screen for the awesome collage of events from the week that two of our tutors put together. (I'm gonna put it on here, as soon as he sends it to me-another reason I've been stalling on writing this post.) For four of us tutors, we knew it was our last week. For the students, school was starting on Monday. After 5 incredible days, we were all a little sappy (and tired, which makes some of us more sappy), and Friday just felt like a standing ovation for all we had done this summer.
To our surprise, the director and founder of ACLE came to see our show. Since the high school program is still in the developing phases, he wanted to see if we were doing a good job of it. Needless to say, he was more than impressed. It definitely was going out on a high note, and he personally commended us each for all we had done, which was quite an honor. I have spoken with him since, and he has asked me to consider coming back next summer since he had heard good things about my work from all my camps. So, if you don't see me around much next June.... ;)
All this was fine and dandy, except by Friday night I realized I wasn't ready for Saturday. I still didn't know where I was going or what I was doing. I had already turned down one teaching job so I could finish my camps, and I definitely don't regret it. But I wasn't sure where I would be staying starting next Monday. It was a little difficult, after a summer that was perfectly mapped out and organized for me-and so adventurous-I felt a little empty. But thankfully, I had many wonderful families with open hearts and open arms telling me I always had a place with them. So, long story short, as I mentioned, I am back in Vicenza, the city I really had hoped to be in. I'm not with a family from my camps, but one of my camp hosts introduced me to this family, so it all comes around eventually. This family has three of the sweetest children ever, and I love still being part of a family and, well.....playing whenever I want to. :)
So I'm finally really on vacation. I know most of you thought that's what I was on all along, but trust me, being a tutor and being a tourist are NOT the same. It's been nice to get solid nights of sleep, and to not have to pack my suitcase every seven days-that's the BEST part. I'll give you an update on my life now in a little bit. But just after I got settled into a long-term home, I had a special visitor....

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