Volunteering Experience #1

Friday, November 4, 2016

Today I volunteered at the elementary school for the first time! Six other LdM students and I went with the LdM volunteer coordinator to a local Italian school not far from my apartment building. The school is several floors, and there are floors designed for the younger kids (pre-K through 8) and high school kids.

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Kids heading out for recess after lunch

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in an elementary school! I couldn’t help but smile seeing the little kids with their teachers. It made me remember my fond days at Maple Street.

We had one hour with them in their cafeteria. The cafeteria was a huge room with long tables set with glasses, napkins, and silverware. The college kids split up at different tables to practice English over lunch with the younger ones. Some sat with the first graders and others with the second graders, but I sat with the fifth graders. What a wild bunch! They had lots of energy at lunchtime. I couldn’t get over how young they looked to me! I remember feeling a lot older when I was 9 or 10 years old…

Their teachers instructed us that their fluency in English varies. Some have more exposure to English at home than others, but the school starts teaching it as early as they can to everyone. I didn’t think their English was bad at all! Just listening to them speak in Italian and English and watching them interact with each other made me smile. I learned as much Italian as they probably learned English from me.

One boy, Marco, seemed to be very interested in talking to me, so I talked to him the most. He asked me how old I was, where I was from, what my name was, what I liked to do. The girl next to him didn’t speak English as well, so he would translate. I’ve become very familiar with the term “come si dice…?” from my Italian class. It means, “How do you say…?” I heard it a lot today too when the kids asked their classmates (in Italian) how to say a word in English.

I didn’t get a chance to talk to all of the kids because it was a big table, and some of them didn’t seem too keen on practicing their English with a stranger. However, I did have a lot of fun and will look forward to Friday afternoons with the bambini.

For lunch, they served a soup (I think… the kids hated it and didn’t eat it, throwing it in the scrap bucket on the table), pizza, and pudding. I only had the pizza. The lunch lady would stop at each table, and all the kids would rush to the cart to get their food. Everyone put their dirty plates on a table too.

Volunteering is something I didn’t get to do a lot of in high school like I did in middle school. It feels good to be doing it again in Italy; it’s another way to connect with the Florence community. xo ~e.

Word of the day: bambini (kids)

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