an international rule: all school lunches taste bad

Today marks the end of my first week at camp in Crema, and the half-way point of this particular two-week camp experience! The title of this post is dedicated to the prepared school food the tutors and students eat for lunch in the school’s mensa (lunchroom). The meals bring me back to elementary school lunches where you know the vegetables came straight out the can into the hotel pan and were constantly luke-warm. Italy is supposed to have good food, and 99% of the country does, but this mensa does not make that list.  

My lesson group at this camp is made up of 6-8 year olds, who are all pretty much beginners in English. This week we reviewed the alphabet, (which they hate) and numbers up to 15. The Italian alphabet has 21 letters versus our English 26-letter alphabet – the Italian alphabet is without “lettere straniere” so the letters J, K, W, X, and Y are all really difficult for the little kids to understand, whether in Italian or English. The pronunciation of letters like H and all the vowels also really throws them off – English vowels have a totally different pronunciation than Italian vowels: the E in English sounds like the I in Italian. You can just imagine the casino (mess) when I dictate spelling. That said, they know their colors like a boss. Numbers, too! I’ve also made sure my group has the best manners in all camp – “please” for every request followed by a “thank you” after. And we even covered “you’re welcome”…which came out sounding like “werr ‘elcome.” But I won’t be discouraged! 

Today, since it was the last day for some campers, the kids put on a little show where they sang 2 songs for the parents – my group of little kids, with the other young group, sang “I’m A Little Teapot,” which was hilariously adorable. Some of them actually did pick up the words but you could tell a lot were loudly imitating the sounds. The older group sang an English Camp version of “Call Me Maybe.” Then, we got them all together to sing “Old McDonald,” since on Wednesday we had taken a camp trip to an agriturismo, which is basically Italian for a farm that has been transformed into a really fancy hotel/reception hall/restaurant. This place was called Le Garzide – they had horses, white cows from Tuscany and a couple of dogs, which the kids (and myself) loved. We also used the lovely open grass space as the spot for our camp water games, which included the traditional water balloon toss of course.

Overall, this first camp is a great experience and has made re-entering the ACLE circuit enjoyable. My class is well-behaved, and being in Crema means that I have made lots of useful connections for the coming academic year. The director of the camp works at the local elementary school and wants to organize an after-school english program with me, something extra-curricular for younger students interested in furthering their English. I’m totally up for the job, and I’m really glad to hear that Crema’s school system is so pro-English. Through all the ACLE experience I’ve had, it’s come to my attention that many teachers aren’t really a fan of this English Summer Camp idea. However, it’s so clear to see how beneficial these camps are – the students loosen up and become much less hesitant about speaking English between Monday and Friday. And now I’ll stop plugging English Camps and wrap it up. Italy’s living up to all my expectations and more.

A presto/See you later!


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