because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Friday, 16 July 2010

What Do We Want? AWKWARD TURLE!

Italians aren't known for being the outgoing sort. One of the best parts of the job is making them uncomfortable. Every morning we gather the kids at camp up- be it 156 of 'em or just 30- and stand them in a circle. And for thirty minutes we sing songs and do games and YUP. The awkward turtle was MADE for them. They hate it.

On the first morning of each camp I tend to chose a victim. Normally an older kid, who doesn't want to be there, and who stands playing on his shitty Italian phone whilst wishing he had something made by Apple. And when we tutors each take turns to stand in the middle of the circle to lead an activity he just smirks at his friends and crosses his arms.

Dude. Don't even go there with me. I will CUT you.

This is the guy I choose. As I sing my song and shake my groove-thang, you'd better believe that it is HIS face I'm gonna get all up in. HE is the one I call out, make stand in the middle and do it all with us. Because you KNOW that his mama ain't never made him do anything brother don't wanna do. AND THAT REALLY PISSES ME OFF.

In fact, as a rule, Italian children are so molly-cuddled that having a bunch of Brits and Americans captain the ship for a week of education is int-er-rest-ING. "Ma, maestra, non voglio..." they say. And then I show them the palm of my hand. "I DON'T UNDERSTAND ITALIAN!" I bellow, and then I point at my red tee shirt. "ENG-LISH CAMP! Not Italian camp! Now dance, bitches, DANCE!"

And you know what? They normally end up having an alright time. Sometimes, at the end of the week, they even cry when they kiss me goodbye. Actually, back to the awkward turtle-ness. Italians kiss. I HUG. You want to upset an Italian? Hug them. For a really long time. 

Similarly, I totes took my kids out of their comfort zone this week. We took English camp PUBLIC. As a fourteen year old is there anything worse? You could actually die from speaking English out-loud, in public, to people you don't even know. Seriously. It happened to my friend Wanda's sister's cousin.

I had 14 fourteen-year-olds this week. Incidentally, when we tutors arrived the camp director suggested that since it was the largest class, and the oldest class, and had a lot of boys in it, DERRIK (him again!) should take them. Because Derrik is a boy. And I am not. Even though I have more experience in camps, and more experience with older students, and more experience teaching English. Bastard vagina. Always getting in the way! OH TO BE A WOMAN! WHAT WOES! Needless to say, the director lost that fight. Same as when she tried to let three girls sit out a trip to the pool because they had their period. That doesn't fly with me. Shall we have a tampon seminar? No? THEN GO GET IN THE POOL.

I had them stage a protest against their parents. Italians don't often get asked what they think, they get told, so it was a bit of a slow burner. "But I like my parents," said one. "I eat my vegetables because I like them, not because they say so," said another. Okay guys. Whatever. Write some signs.

This is what we came up with.

I DON'T WANT 2 TIDY UP MY ROOM
(me neither, love)

I WANT AN iPHONE
(And a razor)

I WANT TO SEE MY BOYFRIEND MORE!
(and he wants to see more of you, treacle. Just in a different way.)

And as a 14-year-old, what would you do with it?

Then we bicycled to the town centre and stood outside of the mayor's office. "WHAT DO WE WANT?" I yelled. "Justice!" They cried back. "WHEN DO WE WANT IT?" They chorused back, "NOW!" The camp director seemed embarrassed. "Am I embarrassing you?" I asked her. She avoided eye-contact. "Yes," she said.

And then the mayor invited us into his VERY FANCY, oak-pannelled, Berlusconi-inspired office and asked us what the bejesus we were doing. He told me I was too young to be a teacher. It's funny. He seemed way too old to be a mayor, slick-grey fox, low-hung trousers, olive-oil-haired beast that he was. I didn't mention that though.

And so we went on, marching through the streets. Well. To be entirely honest, I was doing most of the marching. Everybody else was sort of skulking. But goddamn we got ourselves out there! Broadened our horizons! Pushed ourselves to the limits of daring! We took the awkward turtle LARGE!

Oddly enough, nobody cried when we parted ways today. Can't figure that one out. Oh well, on to the next! Next week? TAKING ITALIAN KIDS TO LONDON. Oh baby. We're in for one hell of a ride.
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