Hello! My name is Katerina and I am a 22 year old student from Calgary, Alberta – the Texas of Canada. It was a pretty extreme difference going from cow country to historic Italy.
However, in the hopes of gaining experience with ESL children and teaching English abroad,I jumped at the chance to leave the country and take off to become a camp counselor in Macerata, Italy.
Through GeoVisions , I was able to make my dream a reality and in turn learned more than I could have ever imagined. Here is my top 5 list of things I did at camp this summer:
1. I formed unforgettable relationships with kids of all ages. Throughout my schooling to become an elementary education teacher a large focus has been on building strong RELATIONSHIPS. Coming into this program I was worried forming relationships with students that don’t speak the same language as me would be challenging. I was SO WRONG. The love the kids have for learning and meeting counselors from around the world is incredible. They are so beyond appreciative and show you every day that you are special.
2. Not only are friendships made between counselors and students, or even student to student, but strong relationships are built between counselors. Counselors come there with similarities and motivation to travel, work with children, and gain new experiences. No matter the experience you have at camp I can guarantee at least a counselor or two will give you new perspective and change your life in one way or another.
3. I was able to find teaching strategies for ESL students that I can implement in my future classroom. My intention going into the program was to get a better understanding of ESL students and analyze what works and doesn’t work with these students. I learned that body language can play a HUGE role in comprehension. Demonstrations, hand gestures, visuals, and positivity would draw the students in and ultimately gain their respect. Speaking slowly, writing on the board, and ensuring classroom management techniques also made it easier to work with the students and captive their attention.
4. And now for your Feature Presentation! The students loved putting on a play in English at the end of the week at camp to display all they had learned and put their acting skills to the test. The counselors were given the chance to write and direct their own personalized plays of childhood stories with a slight “twist.” The kids were all given their own part with lines they took home to practice. Coming up with costumes and adding expression to their roles was definitely one of the major highlights of the week for the kids, counselors, and parents.
5. The fifth and final thing I learned at camp was how to immerse myself completely in another culture. There were plenty of opportunities to speak to the Italian counselors about their everyday lives in Italy and what traditions and customs are part of their history. Food, language, scenery, nightlife, clothing, and travel were all new experiences that changed the way I see the world and will forever be a memory of my teaching English abroad travels in Macerata, Italy.