Why did you choose this program?
I was told by a few friends I met while working across Italy that their experience doing camps was fantastic they only had positive things to share. They all had such wonderful stories about host families and meeting other tutors from around the world.
I have always dreamed of visiting Italy, and I couldn't believe getting paid to sing and dance with Italian kids and travel around Italy was an option.
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Educo takes care of your accommodation while you're in camps, and you have three free meals a day generously cooked by your Italian hosts. They also get all of your train tickets and arrange any transportation to and from train stations to your net host. All you have to do is be at the right place at the right time.
Getting to Italy is on you! Because it's on a Study Grant basis, no need to worry about visa paperwork and processing. Just apply and buy your flight over! Easy peasy.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Learn some Italian! I think it's self-explanatory. Just makes the whole experience a lot smoother. Though playing charades is great fun when you really need to get a point across to your hosts and pretty common in a country where they speak with their hands all the time anyway. However, on days off when you want to go exploring, it really comes in handy to get around with a little Italian.
Also, pack light! You'll be wearing your EDUCO TUTOR shirts for work every weekday. Pack the essentials and a few nice outfits. Having too much luggage is a bummer to lug around buses, trains, and planes every weekend when you switch host families. Also, leave more room to fill your bag with Italian clothes. Trust me, you'll be shopping.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
An average day at camp goes like this:
9 AM: Morning Circle
All the tutors and campers get in a big circle and sing energizing English camp songs and play games for half an hour. (It’s honestly my personal favorite part of the day and the best way to wake up in the mornings.)
9:30 AM - 12:30 PM: English Lessons
You and your individual class do English-based learning activities, games, and worksheets, with a snack break in between.
12:30 PM – 2 PM Lunch
Everyone eats together. Sometimes, the camp has a canteen/cafeteria if you're in a school. The tutors then get a half hour break and then another half hour to all set up the afternoon activity together.
2 PM – 5 PM: Afternoon Activities
Every day, the tutors set up a different game to play all together. Examples are water games with balloons and hoses and sponges, Safari Day where the kids paint the tutors as animals and have to run around outdoors and catch all the animals, Scavenger Hunt with maps, TRashion Show where kids have a time limit to create the best outfit with recycled materials, Culture Day where the kids get to do activities from all the different countries that the tutors come from. For example, I come from Northern Canada so I had the kids watch a short video of northern lights; we made paper snowflakes in one camp, we played floor hockey with brooms and tape rolls, and in another camp, we made "S’mores" over a tiny candle fire. They loved it!
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was feeling lonely being far from home and the people I am closest to. The first week of camp, you work with 40 people all in the same shoes from across the globe. It's amazing because everyone is sharing the same fears and discomforts at first, and you make 40 new friends in a few days.
Every camp, you work with new people and live with a new family and are always surrounded by people to talk to and share with and listen to. Never once did I feel lonely. I've made some of the most important friends in my life this summer!
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I wish I had brought something from home to give to the families – even a small postcard or piece of home. The families are so generous when you're with them, and make sure you have the best time in their town/city. Being able to give them something back from my home would have been nice.