14 June 2009

Watch, Listen, and Repeat

There's so much to tell you about these last several days that I'm almost afraid to try. However, my tale involves sun, cute boys, and especially pasta- not in that order- so I've decided it's worth the time it will take to recount it.
Monday night: Dinner at Tahiti (not the country, just the beachfront restaurant in Sanremo). My roommate Vanessa and I didn't really realize that it was a dressy thing so I def showed up in the same clothes I had been orientated it. A little awkward.
The food was all up at a buffet. There was penne pasta in a marinara sauce, with grilled vegetables and salad and french fries and some scalloped potatoes with broccoli and pesto. (There was meat, too, for those who eat it, but of course I didn't really care.) They also gave out several bottles of wine per table, and there was gelato after dinner. I wasn't shy about getting seconds.
I should add now that Tahiti has possibly the cutest waiter in the world. That is all.
Tuesday: I wish I could remember everything that we did every day, but that would involve me getting into my backpack, finding my orientation packet, and copying the info from there to here, and I simply don't have that motivation right now. However, I think Tuesday was more of the same as far as learning different teaching techniques. We also spent a fair amount of time playing games and learning songs to use with our students.
That night, we split into two groups for dinner, because apparently ours was the largest orientation class they've ever had. My group went to the Yacht Club, which is literally the whole town's yacht club. It was pretty good but not super amazing. The view, however, was pretty great.
Wednesday: We actually got to work with little Italian children for two hours in the morning! I was assigned to a group of 6-8 year olds, along with a few other tutors. We played a few games with the kids to warm up and get them comfortable, then we introduced the lessons for the day with more games. After that we played more games with them. When we were all done, they didn't want to leave, and we definitely didn't want to do more workshops, but what can you do? Oh, and the picture below this is of one of the chalk tracings we had them do. One boy made his anatomically correct. He's got a full circulatory and respiratory system. There are intestines and pretty much everything.
I should add that lunch each and every day was really, really good. Lots of pasta, lots of salads with balsamic vinaigrette, lots of cheeses and risotto and just everything.
After lunch, we were split into groups to make up a final show, which is something we'll be doing at the end of each camp with our kids. It has to be a little performance of 5-10 minutes, showcasing the things they've learned and worked on throughout the week. Each group was assigned an age group, and we basically put together a show as if we were kids from that age group. The performance would be on Friday, so we got some ideas together and decided on all the basic deets- characters, plot, etc.
Dinner that night was back at Tahiti. The waiter was still amazing, but one of the senior tutors, Mike, definitely gave me grief about it for the rest of the week. Oh yeah, the food was good too. I think this was the night several of us just wandered around playing hacky sack in the streets of Sanremo. We were pretty excited, though, because one of the boys had been selected to leave for a camp the very next day and the whole teaching thing was becoming more palpable.
Thursday: We learned some more games and songs, and some of them were really great. I think my favorites are Boom Chicka Boom and Bazooka Bubblegum. Oh, and Lalalalalala Body.
After that we did some more group exercises. By this time we had all sort of figured out those people that you definitely could never ever stand to be placed with, and everyone was a little anxious because they'd told us we would learn our assignments that afternoon. I definitely had a countdown going in my head.
The afternoon was spent rehearsing for our final show and with Mini Olympics. Mini Olympics is pretty much what we would call a Field Day. We all split into teams, had to come up with a team name and different chants, and then we competed against each other in various activities (most of which involved water balloons).
We took a break, and then it was the moment of truth. Everyone sat around Vince, one of the guys in charge of the program, as he read off locations and names. First were those who would be leaving Friday night on sleeper trains to teach at camps in the south of Italy (about 40 people). The second group were all leaving Saturday morning. I was part of the second group, but he misread my name so I hadn't been paying attention when he said where I was going. I did, however, find the girl who would be teaching with me, and was pretty excited because she's hilarious. We were told to save our questions for Friday, so I would almost have preferred that they not have told us at all on Thursday.
Dinner that night was at Urbicia, up in the old part of Sanremo. Everyone was in a really great mood because we knew it would be our last night all together. There was quite a bit of wine poured, and then one of the groups from Mini Olympics performed their team chant by request. Afterwards, most of us walked the 20 feet or so to the bar we call the cave bar (not to be confused with Madrid's Cave Bar), where mojitos are the bartender's specialty. I think it's actually called something like L'Aighese. Our directors and the senior tutors were all there, and we had a great time.

Friday: We rehearsed one last time for our show, and then performed. Ours was a variation on Cinderella, in which she hosts a birthday party. All manner of fairy tale characters show up, giving her various gifts. What she really wants, however, is a glass slipper (typical). Finally Prince Charming makes an appearance, bearing some shoes. Just as Cinderella is about to try them on, however, Prince Rude crashes the party. Prince Rude was played by a tutor named Gennaro from Jersey, and he said hilarious things like, "Fuhgeddaboutit," and "Hey, I brought some slippers. Try 'em on. DO IT." Basically, everyone loved it. I should also mention that Cinderella was played by a boy, and I was a narcoleptic Sleeping Beauty.
The afternooon was spent with taking a group pic and receiving a few more details about where we would be going. I still wasn't clear about the name, but from what had been said, I thought it was in the Milan area. Then they gave us our t-shirts (like a rite of passage!) and we were dismissed. There were goodbyes said to all those who would be leaving that night.
Those of us who were staying, however, had dinner all together at the port. Like we climbed up on to a massive stone walkway, like a pier maybe? and ate pizza out of boxes just sitting there by the sea. I don't think you've really had pizza until you've eaten an amorphous slab of dough covered in mozerella and gorgonzola cheeses. (At one point, Mike yelled out to the whole group that he'd never seen an orientation group eat so much- that we were like vultures who hadn't seen food in weeks. He acted like he was talking to the entire group, but I'm pretty sure the comment was actually directed to the girl who went back for seconds every single meal, i.e. me.) The views were amazing. This was when they actually gave us our info packets and train tickets, and told us when to meet at the station the next day.
I found out I would be going to Modigliana. It was described to me as a town up in the mountains, and I learned that my class would only have 5 or 6 kids in it. It wasn't actually anywhere near Milan. The journey by train would be around 7 hours, and I'd be leaving Sanremo on the 9:15 train to Milan, but transferring at Voghera and taking that train to Forli'. Exciting!
A few of us headed to the bar at the end of the pier and said our goodbyes. Then it was back to the hotel to get some rest.
Saturday: Woke up at 7 or so. Packed furiously. Grabbed brekky, loaded 'luggages' into a car, and walked to the train station. About half the program was there, and we'd all be on the same train for a while. More goodbyes were said, and then it was on to the train.
I wish inside jokes were easier to explain. They're not even my inside jokes, but they're still hilarious. They involve driving up and down the streets of Sanremo in the Theatrino car screaming slanderous songs about the tutors, and altering the words of the theatre troupe's songs to mock our driver. I'm sure you're completely confused right now. Anyway.
First train- 3 hours to Voghera. Just a heads up, Italian women love to steal your window seats. And some of them are old and very tan. I did not miss them when I got off the train in Voghera, but there I had a traumatic experience trying to find a toilet which was not a hole in a floor. (Unsuccessful.) They'd given us 5 euro for lunch, so I got a tomato and mozeralla (I really think I'm spelling that wrong) sandwich out of a vending machine. It was 2 euro, so I'm telling myself I made money on the day.
Next train- 3 hours more to Forli'. This train was slightly better. . . no wait, I retract that. We were sitting across from an old couple who glared at us the entire time and whispered about us, not realizing that the girl I'm travelling with speaks Italian. They can be a little pushy here.
When we got off the train at Forli', Maria and Ermes were there to meet us. Maria is the Modigliana camp director. They took us to a bar for 'refreshment,' and we talked a little, and went to Maria's flat to discuss the camp. It's a totally new camp. The very first one. On the one hand, there are no expectations for us, but on the other. . . well, we could just do awful. We're pretty nervous. Also, during this time we discovered that our sense of humor doesn't really translate well to Italian.
They drove us up to Modigliana. It's sort of up in the mountains, but I was definitely expecting goatherds and Sound of Music. There are 5,000 people here. . . I'm trying to figure out if I think that's small, or really small. It's about a hundred times less people than are in Madrid.
There was a multiethnic festival going on in Modigliana. Both our host families were participating, so we attended the festival while waiting for them. I had some Portugese flan-ish stuff, and a burrito from Mexico, and a massive helping of couscous. That really had a kick to it. It felt like a bunch of ant-sized rugby players were doing a jig on my tongue and bottom lip.
Eventually I made it to my host mom's apartment. Her name is Olga, and she's Spanish! We've been speaking Spanish and English mostly, because I know so little Italian. Her apartment is amazing. . . and it has wifi!!!
So there you have it I think. Today I was thinking about going running, but Olga and her friends are going to the beach today or something (where the heck are they hiding a beach up here in the moutains? Seriously), so I don't know. Josephine and I were going to work on lesson plans but that may or may not happen. Classes start Monday!!!

PS: I feel I should add that my perfect American accent is now shot to hell, thanks to the 5 days I spent immersing myself in Australian, British, Scottish, and Irish accents. I can't tell you how many people said to me, "But. . . you don't have an accent!" when they heard I was from Kansas (also on that note, the Wizard of Oz jokes are wearing thin), but that's done with now. A few days ago it was an Aussie thing I had going on, now it's a tiny Irish twinge. I really, really have to focus to go back to the Midwestern thing, and I think I'm going to come up with some stock phrases to help me with that.

PPS: The title of this post is what we tell kids to do before every song. It's sort of become a joke amongst us.


Anonymous said...

I know Boom Chicka Boom, too. :)

Cousin Jen

Uncle Dave said...

Liz, What a GREAT post! I am now completely caught up on your first week there. I've got a shortcut to your blog on my desktop so I'll be checking in regularly.

Have a great time!

Uncle Dave