Volunteering Abroad

Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved working with children. I have babysat since I was thirteen, I worked at a summer camp, and I’ve begged my siblings to all have kids, so I can babysit them. So, when coming to Florence and being offered to volunteer at a school teaching English, I jumped at the opportunity. Over the last three weeks I have been volunteering at a school and helping to teach English. I work with boys and girls who are six or seven years old. I go to the school to volunteer once a week for an hour each time. My time volunteering always goes a little something like this. I introduce myself (because most of the kids can’t remember my name), I get hugged by a few kids, I tell them my favorite color or sport, and I help the teacher with the lesson. You would think teaching English is easy because, well, it’s my native language…wrong. It is extremely challenging

There are some children in the class who understand English and can speak it very well, then there are some who know what I am saying, but just can’t respond, and then there are some who just don’t have a clue as to what is going on. I don’t blame them, when they are speaking Italian, I do not understand one thing. It is hard to have conversations with the kids (besides the occasional high-five) because of the language barrier, but I am finding other ways to interact. I play soccer with the kids or point to their shoes and say “Me piache” (meaning I like), and I use simple phrases to help them out. This opportunity is challenging but rewarding (I mean how can you not think you are doing something right when kids greet you at the door with millions of hugs).

This week was Carnival, so the kids were more unfocused than usual and exciting for the festivities. I saw kids dressed up, celebrations happening everywhere, and amazing food (that I got to try!!). I showed up to class with tons of kids crowded around one desk. I should have guessed there would be sweet desserts filling the desk. I started my dessert tasting with schiacciata alla Florentina. This was amazing! It was cake-like and was covered in powdered sugar (I couldn’t help but have multiple pieces). The next delicious food that I tried was chiaccerhere, which is deep fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar. You can imagine how good that tasted. And lastly, I ate fritelle, which are boiled rice balls filled with cream. All of these desserts that had the chance to try and the children I have helped teach made me extremely thankful for the opportunities I am being given while studying abroad in Florence. It is the best!

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