A teaching experience of a lifetime!
After finishing my final year exams last year, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my life. I left Ireland on May 28th to teach English in Italy with A.C.L.E., only returning for my University graduation on the 1st of November. One week of orientation in San Remo gives you tips and tricks and outlines the basics of what you will be doing in camp. You get to meet other tutors and adjust to life there a little. The first week of camp feels like you have been thrown into the deep end; but you have all the materials to make it work! Buckets of enthusiasm, friendliness, patience and creativity are necessary!! Saturday is spent travelling to the Italian host family. The nicest people you will ever meet, they make you feel at home, the mothers and grandmothers stuff you with food and are just incredibly friendly. Sunday is a day for you to spend time with the family. Bright and early Monday morning camp starts, teaching English all day with fun songs and games. A play is prepared for the Friday and on Saturday the exhausted but eager tutors head off to the next town. I had the time of my life and can’t recommend it enough. Particular moments which stay in my mind:
- Gaggiano: Italian kids have a problem pronouncing certain letters. With bated breath I waited during my first final jungle themed show for 6 year old Ernesto not to say “Hi, HI Ham Ha LeopHard”. Cue proud tears at his success!
- Bagnolo Piedmonte: Getting off the train one stop too early, the countless beautiful “I love you” notes and drawings received from my host family daughter Claudia, asking my incredible class what they wanted to do for final show and trying not to laugh when “strip dance” was mentioned. They meant STREET dance!
- Orzinuovi: The most self aware 8 year old girls I have ever seen strutting around (to my embarrassment) for final show in 4 inch high heels which had a history of tears and catfights behind them, shouting “turtle” when playing captains coming to make all the children roll around on the floor.
- Imola: Successfully suggesting the camp director tells my cheeky 13 year old boy student that we ordered broccoli just for him since he had declared it his favourite food in my class on day 1, kids accidentally saying “I will wash you” during water fights, the Wisconsin Moo song, town treasure hunt, Lord Voldemort killing Bellatrix Lestrange and Selena Gomez for killing Justin Bieber for my classes final show, falling down leading an enthusiastic rendition
of “boom shake shake” in the morning circle only to have all the children fall down as they thought it was part of the song!
- Marcheno: One of my favourite shows involving Alberta Einstein and her time machine, Barbie with her pink rescue Barbie-mobil, Prince William and his beautiful cardboard castle, the Olympic Games and Snow White. Messy games involving the kids dunking their heads in Nutella, cornflakes, flour and jam. The kids getting their revenge paying ACLE money to throw a cream pie in the tutors faces.
- Venezia: Worst hostel I have ever stayed in in my entire life, waking up in the night to find a 6 foot something drunk Swedish guy climbing over your bed to get to the window to smoke, +67 mosquito bites after an evening on the marshy beach.
- Carisolo: The most spectacular mountain view I have seen from my family’s stunning Hotel Fontanella, receiving a handwritten poem from the 75 year old guest Aurelio, the multitude of kids tears shed over the fake ACLE money.
- Imola: Returning to stay with the Pasotti family in the Tuscan hills, mountains of cooking Italian Nonna style, (I blame this for gaining at least 2 kilos).
- Trieste: Last minute brainstorming of ideas for the high school camp, some hit & miss scientific experiments the students loved, the most alternative final show consisting of various sketches including describing the sculptures made from rubbish representing Trieste, getting a sore throat & the family drowning me in tasty eucalyptus honey.
- Piove di sacco: Driving home with my host Laura at 2 a.m. Sunday night after the capaletti (pasta) festival in Ferrara, white water rafting in the nearby mountains, the best camp photo ever with the children squinting in the sun, the mortification when the girls you let create their own dance start gyrating to J.Lo singing “love to make love to you baby” at final show rehearsals and despite modifying their dance shocking the crowd with a horrifically placed hip thrust.
- Rimini: Finally some rest and relaxation on the beach, dancing the nights away with Shaun from Australia and the funniest & nicest girls from England.
- Imola: Returning to work as an au pair for the most amazing family, regular running in the stunning countryside to work off the kilos loaded on, practising my Italian and sobbing my heart out on the aeroplane back to Ireland.