School has its ups and downs, but overall it continues to be a joy. Each day, I go to 3-5 classes. The teachers don’t really tell me much in advance what we will be doing, which was actually a little frustrating at first but I’ve adjusted. I’ve done a few prepared classes on topics such as American Literature and American Cuisine, but most of the time, I improvise. Sometimes the classes go well, I can tell the students are interested and we’re having good conversation. Sometimes, the lessons flop and the kids talk the whole time… it’s all part of teaching I suppose.
One thing the students and teachers have shown a lot of interest in is the American school system. I’ve taught the students about American high schools, grades, and classes. They’ve also shown tons of interest in one particular American high school tradition: Prom.
My school has more girls than boys, by a lot actually. I think this is due to the fact that Italian kids choose a school based on a subject matter. Apparently human sciences schools attract far more girls than boys. The girls all want to hear about prom and the school dances or “balls.” They invariably reference the movie High School Musical, and ask if it’s “really like that.”
A few weeks ago, I suggested they get a committee together and do their own prom this year. To my surprise, they now are. Their student council (not sure what they call it) is exploring the idea of a prom. I’m not sure what came first, the chicken or the egg… have they been asking me about prom because they are planning on doing it, or are they planning on doing because they’ve been asking me? Simple things like this sometimes get lost in the language barrier.
Last week, one of my students asked me to teach them about the Ku Klux Klan. I told them that I wasn’t excited about answering the question because it’s something that makes me feel shameful about my country. But, I think it’s important to teach the truth instead of sugarcoated history, so I taught them about the KKK and about Jim Crow. I told them this is the dark side of American history. The teacher made me feel a little better when she pointed out that Italy has had its share of dark moments in the past century as well.
It’s always fun when I get to meet new students or new people. Recently, I went on a field trip to a former royal palace outside of Torino, and I went with a class I don’t have in school. Before the tour started, we went to a coffee shop near the palace (Italians always make time to stop at the coffee shop, though they call them “bars.” Alcohol is also served, but it’s nothing like what we think of when we think of a bar.) and some of the students asked me if I wanted a coffee. One of the girls helped me order at the bar, even though I have been here for a month and a half now and know how to order a coffee, the gesture was very sweet. Then they invited me to sit with them and we made small talk comparing Italy and the USA.
I was also invited to play soccer and basketball in the school gym one day after school with Special Olympics kids. The way it works is they have half the team not disabled and half the team disabled, but only the disabled kids can score. Once again, I got to meet a new group of students and the coach. I haven’t been exercising much since I’ve been here so it was good to get out there.
My school also has a vocational school where they study hospitality and cooking, and the students I played soccer with were from that course of study. I rode the train home with them and they invited me to come to their “bar” (once again, coffee shop) which they operate in the school. They ended up also cooking that day so I got to eat some of their lasagna and converse with some of the teachers.
It’s been a lot of fun to go to the school each day and I’ll miss it when it’s over. I haven’t been taking many pictures in school because I feel that it’s kind of strange to just pull out a camera and start taking pictures. I do want pictures, though. Once I start to get to the end of my tenure here, I’ll take more.. I’m sure all the students will want some pictures too.