The Best Summer Ever | Cremona and Camp Tutoring

That time I was in charge of a group of Italian kids for a week....

Warning: I get a little bit enthusiastic and excited in parts of this. Read at your own risk.

This part of my journey brings me to Cremona, where I will be spending one week teaching in a summer camp, as well as living with an Italian family for the duration of my stay.

So, my last post recalled the last few moments on the train before we met our host families in Cremona. My host mum Giovanna was waiting on the platform for me and straight away I was received with a huge hug, before I even knew who she was! We hopped in the car and off we went, to their lovely house in the countryside of Cremona. It is a beautiful place in the north of Italy, near (ish) to Milan, and the 'Pini' family took me in for the week and provided me with lovely Italian food, culture and experiences. 
First meeting with Giovanna at the station
My host family had requested a sociable girl to stay with them. I thought this was brilliant that I had been chosen to fill these shoes.. However, the reason the family specified this is because they had Church Club activities scheduled for every night that I would be with them. Now, I'm not a religious person. However, I am well up for trying most things, and going to church and singing along to all the Italian choral tunes on the (specially reserved for me) front row seat is quite something. I didn't have a clue what was going on and my host family and everyone around me started shaking my hand during one part of the mass which was quite bizarre, but fun all the same! 
Welcome banners!
Every morning, Giovanna made me an espresso, packed lunch and then took me to school bright and early. It was really strange being mothered so much after being at uni for a year without my wonderful Mama doing those things for me. After an exhausting day at camp, G would come and pick me up at 4.30pm and I'd go home ready for a smashing night at church club. Orrrrr feel really bad when I told the family I wanted a night off to sleep! Mostly I made the most of these opportunities to try something new though, however tired I was.
Bike ride along the River Po with the family
These new experiences even led me to going on a mammoth bike ride in the midday Sunday sun- aren't Sundays for resting?! But it was lovely. We went on a tour of the area all through the countryside and even stopped off at their Nonna's house for a chat. On the way back, coming along a busy main road, my flipflop came off and I threw myself off the bike to save it. In hindsight, this was not a good idea as it meant I was shouting "OIIIIII, OIII!!" to Bea, my beautiful host sister who is pictured above, as I clambered about looking for my flipflop as well as my dignity, whilst a lorry came towards me. This is why I don't ride a bike on the regular...
Host family dinner selfie!
As well as my beloved Church Club outings, my host family also treated me to dinner and late night ice cream which was brilliant. It seems heading out of the house at 11pm to go sit in the main piazza and eat gelato is absolutely normal in Italy . I loved it anyway, and really appreciated my host family trying to show me the Italian way of life all the time.
Awkward, tired family photo
Let's talk about CAMP!
There were around 60 children at our camp based at a school in Cremona, between the ages of around 5 and 12. There were five of us tutors, and after living together for up to two weeks we were great pals so we had a whale of a time. I had a class of 13 ten/eleven-year-olds and they were a dream to work with! They knew just enough English to communicate with me so I could actually teach them and be effective. Whereas some of the younger kids would simply respond with a shoulder shrug and a "che?" and then run away, slice of focaccia in hand.  
Cremona camp tutors
Each morning, as soon as the kids arrived we gathered them all together to do a SONG CIRCLE (best part of the day) and leapt around in front of them looking like fools. The first time we ever did this, the kids just looked at us like we were aliens. Like, seriously. They were waaaayy too cool to do the frog song. So I looked each one of them in the eye as I put my HEART AND SOUL into that damn frog song and broke down those barriers! Soon they were loving it, and by day two they performed so well that their parents who looked on from the other side of the school gates even wanted to join in. That, my friends, is the power of the song circle.
Someone was excited for the fashion show...
So then we each split off into our classes. This is when my class realised that I was really a sweaty, panting mess (maybe a little too enthusiastic in song circle) and I didn't really have a clue how to teach English to these Italian dudes. So I blagged it. And it was incredible. Through being an utter weirdo, the kids were fascinated and really paid attention to the strange person who would randomly sing the camp songs or excessively high-5 them. And although  we were not supposed to speak any Italian to the kids, I may have cracked the odd phrase out which would have them in hysterics because I apparently didn't have a clue what I was saying!

Fun and games!! (They survived)
During break times and daily camp competitions we would all come together and have a laugh playing various games, receiving about 5 loom bands a day, and even home made food items from their nonni (grandparents). The children were so lovely and the idea that 'Italian children are naughty' completely diminished almost immediately.
Post- camp drinks and 'meeting'
We put on a fashion show one day which was soooo fun! I think I enjoyed it more than the kids did, judging by the pictures, Some of the children really embraced it, by bringing in their special clothes that they wanted to show off, or even by making clothes in class. Us camp tutors strutted down the catwalk before the kids did to show them not to be afraid and just to have fun. This meant borrowing various 'fashion' items off the kids. See pictures below!
Tom and I strutting our stuff
Fashion show antics

Throughout the week we were working towards creating a 'spettacolo'- a final show. I wanted the kids to write it themselves so then they could really enjoy performing it in front of their families. So my class ended up with an 'explorers' theme, in which the actors would travel to various different countries and do something that the country is famous for. Therefore, we had one guy acting as Adam Richman from Man vs Food (that was Leonardo's choice), another acting the role of footballer Neymar, and the girls were Brazillian festival dancers,.. just with clothes on. So somehow, these ten- year- old Italian children wrote, learned and acted the whole of an English script that I helped them create, just in one week. Proud moment. However, how rubbish is it that we are not taught such a high level of language in schools in the UK?
 The spettacolo marked the end of our time at camp. It was incredible to see how well the kids had done and progressed. Some parents even came up to me and thanked me in very broken English for helping their children, and that they had seen a big improvement. During the last few speeches and thank-yous of the show whilst us tutors were on stage, my class were chanting my name. It was such a good feeling to be the cool teacher that the children liked. I can definitely see how teachers get so much satisfaction out of their jobs. However, I am unsure about my future in a teaching career.....

Thank you to LSF for providing such a unique opportunity and also to my awesome host family for putting up with me all week! I would definitely recommend that anybody steps out of their comfort zone and does something like this. You don't need to know any foreign languages for most of these types of jobs, and you may meet some brill people and create life long memories like I did. ;)

Enough of the soppy bullsh. We're going to Florence next!!

A presto!

Olivia xx

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