To the teachers, students, and parents of Liceo Stella Maris,
Thank you all so much for making my experience in Italy absolutely wonderful. When I offered to volunteer as an English tutor in Italy I must admit I was slightly nervous. I speak very little Italian and I have never taught English, nor any subject for that matter. I knew that any trepidation I had prior to leaving would be washed away once I settled in, but I never knew just how much fun I would have! I am so pleased to have met such amazing people. I cannot thank everyone at Stella Maris enough for making me so welcomed in Civitanova Marche.
My fist day at school was slightly overwhelming. I was to introduce myself with a presentation to each of the five classes. I really had no idea what to expect from the students. Upon meeting each class I was delighted to know that the students were excited to meet me and to learn! It was fun to see how enthusiastic the students were to talk about American pop-culture. I was surprised to see just how much they knew about America! I was especially impressed by the students of the first class. Although they knew the least English they were definitely the most enthusiastic students! It was wonderful to see how excited they were to learn.
Most students were very shy, especially in my first few weeks working at the school. I know they were afraid to make mistakes, or simply didn’t know how to say what they wanted in English. But with time they improved and became more willing to give English a try. I think after they saw me make horrible mistakes as I tried to speak Italian, they were more willing to try English - because everyone makes mistakes when learning a new language! For me it is not about perfect grammar, it is about getting the message across as best you can. Language should be fun, and should be freeing, because it allows you to meet and connect with many people across world cultures.
One of my greatest teaching challenges was preparing a history presentation for the students of the fifth class. Professor Santoni and Professor Morresi asked that I create a lesson about American Presidents Woodrow Wilson’s foreign policy. Of course I know about American history, but it’s certainty not a subject I’ve ever taught. I didn’t want to overwhelm the students with too much information and English vocabulary that would be difficult to understand. Even with a simplified history, I think it was quiet a challenge for the students! I still don’t know if they quiet understood everything - me presentation drew many blank faces! I know history can be a bit dull and learning about it in a foreign language is difficult! But I think the challenge was a good one. It is an important subject in history, and very important to help the students expand their English vocabulary. I hope the students enjoyed the challenge!
An especially enjoyable experience with the students was joining the school trip to Prague and Salzburg. My friend Ananda, a fellow English tutor, was able to come with us. I was very happy to have my friend with me, and I think the students were also happy to have the chance to meet another American! It was well worth the long and arduous bus ride to see such beautiful cities. I never expected to see these cities on my trip to Italy, the chance to join the school was a wonderful surprise! It was great to get to know the students outside of the classroom. I think outside of school they were a bit less afraid to try English. I had so much fun with the students in Salzburg and Prague! It is a trip I will never forget!
I really must thank all the teachers of Stella Maris. Despite any language barrier, the teachers were nothing but kind to me! I really enjoyed getting to know the teachers at lunch on Fridays. It was very interesting to me because in America we never eat together like this at work. In the USA people are much more separate and don’t always spend much time with people besides close friends and family. I think this really shows what a wonderful sense of community there is in Italian culture, and at Liceo Stella Maris especially! I was so pleased by how welcoming and warm everyone was.
The most kind and welcoming person of course was Erica Santoni. I owe her a huge thanks you for making my experience as a tutor so amazing. From the day I arrived she always greeted me with the friendliest smile and her benevolence always made me feel at ease. She is truly an inspiration. She is smart and hard working, expecting the a lot from her students, but she also knows how to make learning fun so all her students admire her. I can only hope to one day be as great of a teacher as her. Thank you Erica for teaching me so much and treating me with such deep kindness.
Thanks again to everyone at Liceo Stella Maris. My experience in Italy was so beautiful and for this I have you to thank! I will always look back at my time in Civitanova with such happiness. Not only did I have fun and meet such amazing people, but I also discovered that I would really love to continue teaching English abroad. I look forward to getting my teaching certification here in America, and then hopefully one day returning to live in Europe, maybe even Italy! I cannot thank you enough for this beautiful adventure.