venerdì 28 maggio 2010

little gifts

Gifts I have received from my teachers and students:
A linen scarf from the teachers at Zappa
A bottle of limoncello from the principal
A bracelet from Ms. B
A photo of the class of 1G where they are giving thumbs up (one of my signature moves) and have written "THANK YOU RACHEL"
A photo from 1E class plus a note saying:
FOR RACHEL! Nice to meet you! Remember us! You are very funny! You are fantastic! We like you!
A bouquet of yellow tulips from the 3rd year class plus a note that says "We won't forget you, have a nice trip, with love..."

Pretty sweet. And then upon leaving, I found this note in the basket of my bike:
X Rachael (spelling error!)
Hi Rachael
Have you got Facebook?
If it is a yes, can you add us
P F & M DM


mercoledì 26 maggio 2010


Today was my last day teaching at Parini, and I'm a little relieved. It was impegnativo, a little stressful, working my schedule around the 2.5 hour block I needed to get to the school, teach, and leave. The kids were not always a treat either, as in the beginning they were a little aloof and I couldn't shake the feeling of privilege that permeated the classroom, but by the second half of the year we had gotten to know each other and we could joke and laugh a little bit.
In the last ten minutes of class, we played a short game of "Would you rather..." to practice speaking. I asked them, "Would you rather a job that you love that doesn't make much money or a job that you hate where you make lots of money?"
M, a boy with long black hair and the air of a metalhead, smiled at me and said immediately, "I want a job I love, because I don't need a lot of money."
"Okay, great," I said. I then turned to the rest of the class. "What do you guys think?"
L, a blonde girl who has spent a good deal of time in California and has asked me what "co-ed party" meant, said, "I would rather a job that makes a lot of money because I want to be rich and I can always do what I love when I am not working."
"Ah, okay, good...T, what do you think?"
"I would like a job that makes lots of money because I can quit it after a few months but still have lots of money."
Oh dear, maybe I'm an idealist, but this was a little bleak for me. I turned to G, the artistic girl who wants to be a photographer and loves to read and got teased about her new boyfriend. She was my last hope. "G, which would you rather?"
"I agree with T. I want to make lots of money but then I can quit."
I turned to the class in general. "Does anyone disagree, other than M? Do you all want to make money?"
They all nodded. "Yes, lots of money!"
I looked around the room. "Alright, so no one here wants to be a teacher, I guess."
They guffawed. Sigh.

lunedì 24 maggio 2010

the apocalypse? no, just soccer in Europe

(Inter flag we found in the street waving proudly on my balcony. Bonus: Milan sun!)
Y'all in America may or may not have been paying attention to the European Champions League, where the best soccer clubs in Europe compete for several months to become the campioni. Inter, one of Milan's two teams (and a little bit the Yankees of Italy), beat such teams as Chelsea and Barcelona to reach the finals against Bayern, Munich. And guess what...
They won! For the first time in 38 years or something crazy like that. Not Real Madrid, not Manchester, but Inter! Want to see?

We went to the Piazza del Duomo to see the game on the big screen with the crazies. Here is a video of its last moments and when the crowd realizes that Intern has won. For the first minute, everyone has their hands in the air and says "OOOOOOO," and then the crowd erupts with joy, the sky with fireworks, the piazza with crazy.

It's a little Blair Witchy, but you get the idea.

And then for hours afterwards (including bonus shot of our bikes and me terrified about leaving them with the crazies):

So I guess you could call this my first European Football Experience. Pretty intense, and all the noise and smoke and flares made me think on some level that the Rapture/Word War III might be occurring. Do these kinds of things happen in the U.S.? I missed the images of the streets of New Orleans after the Super Bowl. Maybe I do not care enough about American sports.

In the end, all was well, the only casualty was the mudguard of F's bike.

A selection of chants heard that night:

Josè Mourihnoooo dadadadadada (ode to the coach sung to the tune of "I can't take my eyes of you")

Juventino pezzo di merda!

Siamo noi
Siamo noi
I campioni d'Europa siamo noi!

mercoledì 19 maggio 2010


Today was my last day with my lovely 5th year students (vomit aside), my last day tutoring, my last trip to Via Emilio de Marchi, the home of the family where I landed when I first arrived. But I'm not going to dwell on that, because I might be back next year...
So instead, I will record a few conversations I've had recently:

In both Cremona and Zappa you need a key to use the elevator. Zappa conveniently has two custodians who wait around with their keys to call the elevator for you. They both ignored me more or less for eight months, but after my relentless "ciaos" one has started to smile at me. Yesterday she called the elevator and asked:
C (gesturing to my dress): Aren't you cold?
Me: No, it's very hot up on the fourth floor.
C: But down here's it's cold.
Me (almost sweating already): Yes, well I'm warm-blooded.
C: Yes? Do you eat a lot?
Me (amused): Lots.

Today one of the secretaries I had never talked to before followed me to the drink machine to get her tea. She said:
S (smiling ear-to-ear): Oh hi, how are you?
Me: I'm well, and you?
S: Ah how sweet you are! How wonderful! Where are you from?
Me: I'm american.
S: Ah how sweet, how wonderful. (che dolce, che bello) But are you alone here?
Me (is this an existential question?): I have friends.
S: What about are you parents?
Me: They're in the U.S.
S: Ahh, how sweet and wonderful. Goodbye, then.
Me: Goodbye.
And back to the office...

Then a student (not one of mine, but one who always says hello to me) found me in the pizzeria beside the school.
Boy (in English): Are you occupated?
Me: Occupied? No, I'm just reading a Sherlock Holmes story for class.
Boy (laughing awkwardly): Oh, occupied, yes. Oh, that's boring. I thought it was a letter from your girlfriend or something.
Me (playing up the awesomeness of Everything That Is School, downplaying the strange flirting): No, but it's actually quite fun and interesting.
Boy: You don't have an English accent.
Me: That's because I'm from the United States.
Boy (gesturing towards my plate): And what about Italian food? Do you like it?
Me (following gesture to my empty plate): Um, yes. I love it.
Pizza man (with pizza): Eccola!
Friend (impatient): Andiamo, dai!
Boy: Okay, see you.
Me: Bye bye..

Maybe they're not much. They seemed sweet and wonderful at the time. And strange.

mercoledì 12 maggio 2010

Lazy at best

I've been a bit down on the posting, and this time I can't even blame it on the good weather: it's been raining for about ten days straight.
And I can't blame it on nothing happening in at school. For example: A week ago, I was introducing Joyce to my 5th year class. We had just begun to read "Eveline" when a boy whipped around in his seat and vomited all over the floor. There were screams, half the class escaped to the window, the other half outside of the classroom. Lesson put on hold. The next day I was on the third floor and saw some of my 5th years in giro. They said, "Hi Rachel! We really like Joyce!" Sure.

And it's not that I've been bumming around the house: I went to Florence with F a week ago, which was lovely. We caught La Notte Bianca , where shops stay open into the early hours and there are concerts and hordes of night owls. Then on Saturday we took the train to Sesto Fiorentino to attend Primo Maggio at Istituto di Ernesto de Martino, the place where I interviewed Ivan della Mea and in general fell in love with folk music.
Here is a video of one of the choruses at the festival singing "Stornelli d'Esilio," one of my favorite leftist songs. Chorus is like this:

Nostra patria è il mondo intero
e nostra legge è la libertà
ed un pensiero
ribelle in cor ci sta

Our homeland is the whole world
Our law is liberty
And a rebel thought is in our hearts.

More or less.

There's more, but I am a bum. So I will wait until I am not a bum/not sfasata from a 9-7 workday.