Italy Volunteer Program Update – March 13

Our second week continues with the winds and challenging and interesting experiences. The volunteers continue to amaze me with their energy and detailed attention to their lessons and the students.

Today, I want to spend some time focusing on the students. If you recall, in one of my prior dailies, I mentioned ‘food is king’ in Italy. Well, if ‘food is king’, then certainly ‘children are queen’. As in ‘ladies go first’, so too, do the children come first. They are the heart of the family, school, towns and most especially very dear to their teachers. They are a sight to behold – walking arm and arm through the streets – balancing their backpacks, laughing and smiling. I am always so impressed with their happy spirited faces. They don’t seem to pout, slouch and saunter down the cobblestone streets. They sort of dance along. Believe it or not, they also walk arm in arm with their parents, especially on Sunday evenings. This is when a ‘passiagatta’ happens – a nightly stroll in Italian towns, where people lick gelato, show off their clothes, and greet each other. It is an old tradition, especially popular in the small towns, but still practiced in the neighborhoods of the larger cities.

Our students are always happy to see us and they continue to be a pleasure to converse with. On Monday, they share their weekend activities with us. We discuss a multitude of topics during the two weeks – everything from families to holidays to career goals to fashion, music, etc. Every classroom hour brings a new set of ideas and experiences to the table. The students are especially fortunate to have two attorneys – professionals, who serve as role models and also have interesting stories and much information to share with them. I am especially pleased to renew acquaintances with some students, I have known from the past. I also recognize and know some of the teachers from past visits to Monopoli. To be remembered and greeted with such hospitality is heartwarming.

A few words about are hotel are probably in order by now. The Hotel Clio is an older hotel, with 72 room and two wings. All of the rooms face the sea. For most of the time, there have been just a few persons staying here, since it is out of season. But lo and behold, a busload of 110 school children from Rome arrived yesterday. Thank God they are staying in the other wing. They have 8 teachers accompanying them and they are here to tour the area. Also staying here, are about 12 men from Sicily who are working on some sort of energy project. They don’t speak any English and it is difficult to understand exactly what they are doing. Last week, a sport’s team was here for a few nights, however, we could never figure out what they played – a ball game with 5 players?? So it is sort of like old TV show, ‘Hotel’, with a revolving cast of characters. The hotel staff is extremely accommodating and the rooms are simple, clean and roomy. We have Wi Fi which isn’t always reliable, but I am able to Skype with Bill (husband) each day and even cousin John once. Rest assured, all is well here.

Ciao

– Phyllis

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