The river we cross on the way to school every morning.
I have been a bad blogger lately and I was wondering to myself the other day why this is. It is true that I entered my flat-out- really-busy season with work, but I also realized that it is because life in Italy has settled into such a normal routine, that I don’t really feel like I’m travelling any more. I think this is mostly an excuse, but I’m going with it.
Our routine, since I’m on the subject, has been to attempt to get L into school by 8:30am, by bus or bike, where he stays until 2pm and I go back down and pick him up. He is settling in well and seems to actually be enjoying himself. He has individual Italian lessons twice a week with Nelly, the English/Italian teacher, and has an assortment of the usual classes while he is there such as math, history, English, music, computer, art, and a real bonus, swimming. He says the food served for lunch is mostly amazing and he enjoys playing soccer after lunch every day. The best part of all is he has made a really good friend – a boy who speaks enough English that they can communicate well enough between them. He went to his house the other day for a birthday party. This is monumental! READ MORE....
Life around Vicenza...
I must take the time to note a couple of very refreshing and unexpected characteristics of this little private, Catholic school. First of all, they call all their teachers by their first name, which I always find somehow refreshing. And the second thing is, they seem to let kids just be kids. In L’s last school, they would spend an inordinate amount of time trying to constantly get them to be quiet, lining them up and marching them around wherever they needed to go, be it lunch, recess, or to the library, with the threatened instructions to not utter a word or make a sound above a mouse. Of course impossible for any group of normal, active children with a pulse. Then they would send them back to their starting point if anyone made a peep. And so it would go, ad nausum. Moments of precious life wasted daily on the inane, meaningless and utterly hopeless charade of trying to get kids to be quiet at all times and use ‘indoor voices.’ It’s enough to kill anyone’s excitement for school, and that’s of course the tip of the iceberg in terms of infringement on respect, personal dignity and finding meaning in the average school day.
So imagine my complete shock to discover, in this Catholic school of all places, the kids seem to get from point A to point B talking and chatting amongst themselves, in staggered groups, with no authority barking at them to line it up and zip their lips. And I have plenty of chances to observe as I come at 2:00 every day as various classes are going in and out of the school to recess or other classrooms, as I wait for L to be dismissed, while the rest of the school day continues until 4pm.
While I’m on the subject of schools, last week I started teaching English to two very small classes of very small Italian children at a nearby language school. I’m not ‘officially’ teaching, but actually trading my services in exchange for Italian lessons from the school directors. A pretty good deal in my opinion, as it gets me out and interacting with people rather than glued to my laptop all day writing grants. And I do need some more actual Italian instruction, rather than just what I am picking up on my own through trial and error. But let me just say, teaching kids who speak no English at all is hard work! And I have to pretend I don’t speak any Italian. I am getting used to blank looks and shy smiles as they attempt to make the ‘th’ or the ‘sh’ sound in English, neither of which exist in Italian.
It is only my second week teaching, they range in ages from 4-7 and I cannot help but fall in love with them. Despite our language barriers, their distinct personalities come through very quickly. I have discovered that the games Red Light, Green Light and Simon Says go over very well in any language. They become beside themselves with excitement to play these ‘new’ games. To my immense delight, I have discovered that the very shyest, littlest girl of all, Teresa, who is about 7, but looks younger, and barely says a word, is a beast at Simon Says, never ever losing to anyone. And the joy on her face at discovering that she rocks this game better than everyone else, is fairly priceless. Now I understand why I have so many friends who are teachers – it really can be the most rewarding experience. And I’m not even a ‘real teacher’!
actor-writer-director, improviser, mother, traveler, life renegade