The twenty-first post of the expedition – the transition from composer to producer

About a week and a half ago, it struck me that I only had three weeks left of this spell in Italy, and I resolved to not sit around and waste another day doing nothing until I left. Saturday, admittedly, I sat around doing nothing, save for eating lunch and dinner. However I think I have most certainly earned it.

I’ve just been reading back through the first few posts of the expedition, specifically when I discovered there was a summer camp in need of teachers, and talking about it with such hope and expectation. Hopes and expectations that it easily exceeded.

In all it was two weeks of camp, of which I helped with the latter due to other commitments. I was called the weekend before with the final details, and invited to sit in for a couple of hours during the first week to get a feel for the whole operation. I turn up on the Thursday morning, get introduced to the other teachers – two Irish girls that are over for the fortnight, and sit in on the warm-up activities. Before I know it, I’m fielding a question-and-answer session with about thirty Italian children. They seem to take to me quite well, and I sit in on one of the groups having an English lesson with one of the girls.

Lunchtime rolls around, but before I can escape to get something from a nearby supermarket, I’m accosted by one of the camp organisers. “You’re a natural,” she says. “How would you like to stay for the five full days until 4 next week, instead of the four days of 2pm finishes?” In an instant, the week ahead transformed from an almost unknown entity into something I may have a reasonable chance in being good at. It took me a moment to process this new information before I could answer the question being asked of me, but I was more than happy to oblige.

For the next day and a half before the weekend, I proceeded to study the girls teaching methods, having not taught more than one person simultaneously before in my life. The weekend rolls around and, almost at the end of my first stay in Italy, I’m invited on a night out in Milan, from which we don’t get home before sunrise the next morning. Then I’m up a few hours later to go to the lake with them and the camp organiser that thinks so highly of my abilities.. It’s only Sunday evening that I manage to get a proper night of rest, and even then I’m up at before seven the next morning for the crucial first day of the next week.

Each day in the week that followed was a mixture of triumph, chaos, struggle and relief as each day came to a close, none more so than on Wednesday when a trip to a local park by train almost had a catastrophic ending when we missed what we thought was the last train home. It wasn’t, and it was just another little adventure as far as the children were concerned, but for the teachers, kittens were almost had.

Friday was another long day, with the weeks work culminating in a show put on by the children, followed up with aperitivo at a trendy bar for the teachers and assorted helpers, after which the youngsters of the group, of which I was the oldest, reconvened in the centre of town, crawling around bars until the small hours, thus completing with some sort of symmetry what for me was an amazingly rewarding and inspiring week, and a great way to (almost) finish my stay in this small Italian town.

Jack out.


About Jack
A small-time traveller in a big-time world

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