February 6, 2013

Day 30: 1 Month Done

Its crazy to think that I have been living here for a MONTH!! I would say the time has flown, but it actually hasn't. Though some days I don't do much of anything, the days here seem to last forever. I like to take each new day and discover, learn or experience something new. That's what this trip is about after all, isn't it?
On my walk home today I was thinking about my adventure here so far. Have I changed? yes, in so many ways. I am so much more open to the possibilities life presents to us. I don't say no (well, I mean, I do sometimes) and instead let myself experience ever thing and every moment available to me. When I hear people say "oh I'm skipping that class", I think to myself, WHY??! Its all part of this amazing journey that we, as young people, have and should feel lucky every day to be here, in a beautiful city thousands of miles from home. We are not here merely to study and attend classes, we are here to see the world and LIVE. Life has given us an amazing opportunity and I fully intend to take advantage of it. In sickness and in health, I am determined to make this adventure the best it can possibly be. So I go to class, not to learn, but to enrich myself. To fill myself with the knowledge that only these professors can bestow upon me, to take a little bit of them, a little bit of Italy back with me to America. Have I changed? Of course I've changed. I change everyday, every minute, every second. Every moment I experience here changes me in just the slightest way. I am constantly looking around me, soaking in the people, the smell, the old buildings, the shops, the uneven cobbled ground. I observe and am observed, that is the best way to learn. I know this city, or at least my routes to school, like the back of my hand, but I do not let myself go on "auto-pilot," I slow down, I look up, I see what others ignore, I let myself be influenced by Florence and in turn I influence Florence. Its amazing to be absorbed into a city so quickly and to be able to call it home. This journey may be one month over, but I like to think of it as one month began.

In the lobby at the school I teach at
Today I had Italian, then teaching and Dante. Teaching is really the most notable part of my day, so I will talk on about that. I taught in the 2D class with Mariagrazia. She warned myself and the other interns that the children in the class were rather rowdy and childish. They were, but at the same time I found them to be sweet and excited to learn. We introduced ourselves and then some of the students introduced themselves to us. Mariagrazia divided the class into four groups and assigned each of the interns to head a group. My group was comprised of a girl who was one of the best students, three of the worst boys and two level 1 students whose teacher was absent for the day. Despite being "bad" students, two of the boys tried to engage with me in conversation. The girl, Chiara, spoke very well and assisted them with a little bit of translation (for certain words they didn't know). I talked to Chiara a lot and she was so sweet and kept apologizing for her classmates loud and rude behavior. One of the boys loved asking me questions and saying things to me, i.e. "Do you have a boyfriend?" and "You're really pretty" (he said the latter in Italian). I worked with my group on hobbies and comparison, "Football is more exciting than collecting stamps." They were not too engaged in this activity, but I did get them to practice a little bit.
After class, one of the boys from another group, Nicolas, was trying to put his chair away while Mariagrazia was talking to us. I saw him struggling, as he is very small. I went over to him right as he almost fell over. I picked up his backpack and put it on his desk then lifted the chair for him. He had the biggest smile on his face and said "Thank you!" a little out of breath, than ran away to play with the other kids. I don't know why, but this made me really happy. I think it was because it was the first moment that I feel I actually helped one of these kids. No, I didn't teach him anything academic, but I think I taught him about helping and maybe even conveyed that Americans are good. There is a lot of prejudice in the school I teach at and in Italy about "new Italians" and immigrants, so I hope that during the rest of my time here I will be able to teach these students, the future of Italy, that tolerance and coexistence is important.

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