By Arika Thames (Theatre and Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies double major ‘19)
This summer I had the pleasure of living and working in Italy for six weeks. After studying Italian for two years I was determined to spend my summer in the country in some capacity. Instead of studying abroad, I searched for jobs where I could have that same cultural immersion while gaining valuable work experience. I found a wonderful company named Educo Italia which organizes hundreds of English-immersion summer camps around Italy. I gravitated towards this organization because they use theater and games to teach the language which is something I want to do professionally upon graduation. As a tutor I taught English lessons in the mornings, led fun camp-wide activities in the afternoon, and worked with my students to put on a small play at the end of every week.
This experience was the first time that I ever traveled abroad by myself, so I was considerably nervous, but after a week all of my nerves went away. Educo provided me with great resources and support so that I never felt alone. I moved around to a new city every week which allowed me to see more of Italy than I could’ve ever imagined. Besides my week in Genova, most of the camps were in small towns so us tutors were truly embraced and made to feel like members of the community. My fellow tutors and I were shown around to nearby sites by our host families because they were so excited to show off where they call home. I loved seeing Italy from the perspective of those who lived there as opposed to a tourist’s viewpoint.
My time working with Educo this summer was exactly what I needed going into my senior year. While it was challenging work, it made me more confident in my language abilities as well as cultural competency. I’m now far more prepared for my next step towards a career in theater education and hopefully that future includes Italy!