Reading, Writing, and Ravioli
- a guest article by Nancy Groves, Global Volunteers
Like the mail carrier who enjoys walking on her day off, Mark, Mia and Matt Valenti, of Evanston, Ill., recently joined their father, Thomas, in spending two weeks of valuable vacation in a classroom.
If the work was familiar for these Chicago-area students, the setting was delightfully foreign and exotic : the picturesque, ancient city of Ostuni, Italy, and its surrounding villages. Plus, this time the Valentis were on the other side of the desk: at the blackboard as volunteer teachers with Global Volunteers.
Italy was a special choice for this Chicagoland family. "Ever since I figured out I was Italian I wanted to go to Italy," said 13-year-old Matt.
It wasn't the Thomas' first experience in Italy. "My dad went on the same service program in October 1997. When he got home, he told us about all the different people he met and showed us things he received from them," explained 15-year-old Mia. "We read letters that they had written and heard some of the students on a recording."
Mia wasn't disappointed when she finally made it to the Italian classroom. "The students I taught were all very outgoing. They took us on a tour to the beach and out to eat. Since I was close in age, I enjoyed talking to all of them," Mia said.
For Mark, a University of Pennsylvania sophomore who is learning the Italian language, this was a chance to try out his skill. "I speak enough Italian to carry a conversation but often found myself thinking and feeling more than I could express," Mark explained.
Besides learning about Italy, the Valentis learned about themselves both as a family and as individuals. "I found out how I work in groups and what type of person I work well with," noted Mia. "Generally I like to be organized and in charge and it took a couple of days in class to realize that."
Service programs in the Ostuni area are sponsored by Global Volunteers, a private, non-profit, nonsectarian development organization based in St. Paul, Minn.
How do Teenage Volunteers Turn into English Teachers?
- Volunteers don't replace English teachers, but help the students to practice conversation and pronunciation.
- - Most native English speakers can be extemely useful as a conversational model for the students.
- - Teaching tools often include skits, songs and games.
- - Some volunteers work in pairs with the student groups, making the process easier for each individual.
At the invitation of the local host organization, Global Volunteers sends teams of volunteers to this community and sites in 19 other countries several times year-round.
Most volunteers view this opportunity as an alternative to a standard vacation. As such, the volunteers pay their own costs for participation.
Global Volunteers is not subsidized by any government or religious agency.
The cost of two- and three-week international programs ranges from $995 to $2,395 per person, and one-week USA programs are $450 per person, airfare excluded.*
Global Volunteers sample countries include: Ghana, West Africa Indonesia, Romania, United States (community infrastructure).
Depending on the program site and the age of the child, children may be offered a lower fee. The fee covers all meals, lodging and ground transportation in the host community, volunteer orientation materials, project expenses and the services of an experienced team leader. All costs, including airfare, are tax-deductible for U.S. taxpayers.
For a current schedule and more information on each program, contact Global Volunteers, www.globalvolunteers.org.
Thanks to Nancy Groves, of Global Volunteers, guest writer of this article, dated 01/26/99; photos courtesy of Global Volunteers.
*Always check a destination or organization's web site for updates.