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An Italian Summer

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie that’s amore…”

Whenever I think of Italy, I will think of this song, and just how much I fell in love with Italy when I went the first time. I was around 12, and it was my first holiday with my Father. It was fabulous in every sense of the word; from the vineyard surrounded villa we rented on the beachside mountaintop, to the lavish Italian feasts we dined on on the terrace, gazing at the sun setting. We stayed in Sorrento, and I remember it being just like I had seen in a movie; tiny uphill winding cobbled alleys leading to wine bistro’s and delicatessens, more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

In the summer of 2012, I was given the opportunity to work at a summer camp in Italy called Lingue Senza Frontiere, meaning, language without borders. Initially, I was apprehensive about going as it required me to stay with a host family, which I was very nervous about, seeing as I had zero knowledge of Italian and I was told the family knew no English, too.
I remember arriving in Italy, and had previously written on the company Facebook group that if anyone wanted to meet me in Milan and take the train to San Remo with me for the training, then I would be grateful for the company. A girl called Keri responded from Ireland.
The following day we arrived pretty much the same time, and I remember, having flown directly from Turkey, that I only had my super oversized suitcase. Overloaded with luggage and completely lost, I somehow managed to find the hostel.

Keri and I explored Milan that afternoon, wandering the amazing architecture of the city and coming across the fashion boutiques, wealthy people and expensive cars- just how I had imagined. In between the waves of excitement of being in a new destination I noticed that all of the roads around the Duomo were closed, and I started to notice a lot of armed police in windows and in amongst the crowd which was starting to form… What was going on?!
We decided to stand at the barriers closing off the roadside, and began to see a very elite looking black car being escorted by a large number of police vehicles; motorbikes, bicycles, and armed guards on foot. I had to take a second glance when I realised what I had seen- The Pope! He was in the vehicle, looking into the crowds and casually waving whilst I struggled to catch my breath… I JUST SAW THE POPE! Usually I always have my camera at the ready, but at that moment, I just couldn’t get it quick enough.. ahh!

After arriving in San Remo for training and feeling very unprepared, the group of trainees suggested we head to the beach. If this was training, I was going to love it!
I was placed to sleep in a room with 2 canadian girls who I immediately really got along with. We had an amazing 2 weeks of training, learning camp activities and interactive songs, but the routine was very vigorous.
We had a very strict schedule which involved singing camp songs for about 3 hours of the day, practising on-the-spot thinking, arts & crafts, and large, whole-camp activities. We had no idea where we would be placed right up until the very last minute.

I finally found out I would be working with 4 people I had never actually spoken to before, with a camp leader called Helen.
We were going to run our camp in a village called Inzago, which was holding it’s first ever summer camp! It was in between Milan and Bergamo, another large city in Northern Italy.

After arriving at our school which was holding the camp, the host families arrived. I was nervously excited, but the family turned out to be lovely; 1 young boy and 2 younger girls- Gaia, Noemi and Lorenzo.
I was staying with the family for 3 weeks, and wow, did they treat me like a daughter. We ended up getting very close, with no regards to the language barrier, and I absolutely loved them. They were fun, and even a little crazy; taking me out for ice cream at 11pm. Some of the funny things that came up sometimes, however, did involve the language. At one time, they gave me tea in my cereal instead of milk! But after the first few days, my host Mum became very interested in English and began studying, which immediately became much better than my Italian anyway! At the time, my host Mother was very heavily pregnant, but she was, what could only be described as a wonderwoman. She ensured the house was spotless at any time of the day; she baked, cooked, studied and still found time to take the children swimming, and to their extra-curricular activities. She even went fresh produce shopping at the local market every day- she was amazing.

The camp itself was intensive, but so worth it. I taught a class of 16 students aged 8- 11. The camp, as a whole, were rather unruly. Many students attempted to jump out of windows and climbed and broke shelves. They turned bookcases around (how?!), although my class was not as bad as some..
Camp songs were always fun, until I lost my voice. Between the staff, we had to choose who led the morning song circle, which was especially fun when many of the children were crying in the morning when their parents dropped them off for the day!
We had camp fashion shows, talent contests, and the best of all was the day of the water fight! I placed myself in the top classroom window, pouring buckets upon buckets of cold water on the students, which they absolutely relished.

I had the most memorable experience of my time in both Inzago and Italy, and I would recommend it to anyone. I made lifetime memories with my host family, and I learnt so much about classroom management and dynamic teaching activities that I have continued to use in my teaching positions since.

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