Archive for the ‘teaching’ Category

sunday scribblings: simple

Prompt #61: Simple*


I pull out my notebook to jot down some thoughts because I want to remember these moments forever–simple pleasures of being tickled by cool water trickling through my toes, digging my hands in the sand until they are covered in damp black and gold specks, brushing wisps of hair out of my face put there by the constant, lovely breeze.I write the date in Italian without thinking, and I smile.

I didn’t bring my journal or camera because a trip to the sea wasn’t in the original plan. I have to give final exams in an hour or so, but I decide to head to the beach instead of straight to school–no matter that I have no swimsuit or towel (although always sunscreen).

At least I’m wearing flip-flops and a little sand on my jean skirt isn’t going to hurt anyone.

Despite summer-like temperatures, I am nearly alone on the beach. Two bikini-clad blondes, already sufficiently abbronzate if you ask me, lounge nearby, laughing and joking, switching easily from French to French-accented Italian and back again. We exchange buon giornos, but nothing more. I wonder what brought them to southern Italy, but they seem content in their world, so I don’t ask.

I look up from my notebook and see the back of a shiny black head pop up from the water. Just as quickly, the head dips back under and flippers peek out where it had been. The Ionian Sea is so clear, he can surely see to the bottom without all that gear, but he seems happy, and that’s what’s important. I am reminded that an amateur diver discovered the famous Riace Bronze statues just south of here in the early 1970s, and I wonder whether similar treasures lie just below this guy’s mask.

There’s a teenage girl a little ways down, standing in the water, her short navy blue skirt grazing the surface. She’s whipping her head from side to side, struggling to keep her long, black, curly hair out of her way as she furiously types a text message on her phone. She’ll spend the entire hour I’m here on the phone in one way or another, but no one joins her. I wonder if anyone came after I left, and I hope that someday she’ll appreciate her own company if she doesn’t already.

A sailboat eases by, two men on board casually steering the craft between the scuba diver’s periodically surfacing head and a rather large fishing boat anchored in the sea. I can’t tell what they’re saying from here, but they’re smiling and laughing. The wind is perfect for sailing as far as I know, but admittedly, that isn’t very much. They go back and forth, back and forth, and I think that it’ll soon be time to call home and tell their wives/mothers to put on the pasta, as the time for pranzo is approaching. I wonder if they’ll take a contented nap after they eat.

I put down my notebook and return to the water I had waded in up to my knees when I first arrived–earlier today, yes, but as my feet sink into the wet sand, I realize, also five years ago. I am back in virtually the same spot in which I had first experienced the Ionian Sea, when I had vacationed here what seems like a lifetime ago, when I had no idea that I’d end up making a life here, when P and Luna didn’t even exist, at least to me.

I am taken back to the thoughts that were occupying my mind at that time–my twenty-five-year old mind that started to play with a silly thought of making a major life change, of stepping off the fast-track and pursuing the passions that had always been in my heart but that had been pushed aside for more practical considerations.

The water is calm, refreshing, and oh so clean–cleansing, one could say. I regret that I can’t go in deeper as I have to play professional in half an hour. I laugh to myself as I glance back at the sweater I brought along in case it got chilly. The sweater will stay tucked in my bag for another time, though, because today, the weather is perfect, the breeze is perfect, and this moment is perfect.

And I don’t want to ever forget it.


*I’m posting this early because I won’t be around tomorrow; First Holy Communion time round here, which means some family fun.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!


[tags]sunday scribblings, sea, beach, ionian sea, calabria, soverato[/tags]

i’ve "bean" interviewed

Today I am the subject of an interview by Ally Bean of Crazy Dust In My Coffee. Ally had been questioned by J of Thinking About… and then as part of “The Interview Meme,” she offered to send questions others if they chose to accept the challenge.

I did, and here are Ally’s questions and my responses:

Question: What part of your day do you enjoy the most?

The early morning. If you would’ve told me five years ago that I’d respond as such, I would’ve thought you’d been hitting the sauce, but I’ve come to love the fresh morning air, the silence, the hope and potential that each day holds. And of course my morning routine and, these days, my iced coffee.

Question: What is your opinion of the color yellow?

I love it in all shades, but not for all purposes. I’m not fond of any shade of yellow for a car, but my house is pale yellow, which I find charming on a home. I don’t wear much yellow, and if I do, it’s also of the pale persuasion (like me), and I *love* yellow legal pads. If I had my druthers, I’d have the walls of my (as yet to be developed) home office painted yellow. It’s in discussion.

Question: What is the dumbest pair of shoes that you’ve ever worn out in public?

Anything with the slightest heel in my hilly village full of cobblestone streets.

Question: Just how creative are you?

Sooooo creative? I do think outside the box, and I’m decent at most artsy type things like drawing, painting, music, etc., but I’d love to be much better at all of them. My to-learn/to-improve list is a long one.

Question: What quotation(s) and/or motivational phrase(s) do you live by?

Two major ones: (1) Everything happens for a reason. My grandmother told me this when I was very young, and it’s gotten me through many a tough time; and (2) Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Doesn’t get more simple and true than that.

Now here are the rules of this interview meme:

1. Leave me a comment saying “Interview me.” (If you don’t feel comfortable putting your e-mail address in the comments, please directly send me a message to the address on my sidebar.)

2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Come on, you know you want to play!

And now some entirely unrelated photos.

P happens to be painting the school where I work, but he’s in a part of it that I had never seen before–this place is huge with dormitories and everything.

So the other day I embarrassed P to no end casually took some shots around his work area this week.

Buon weekend!


[tags]memes, interviews, soverato, calabria, ionian sea[/tags]

feeding, dreaming, and teaching (not at the same time)

Well, I finally have put in the RSS feed link in my right column (thanks Paola!). I had done the FeedBurner thing a while ago, and when I saw the little icon pop up in the address bar, I figured that was enough. But maybe only people with Firefox could see that? Not really sure, but now it should be much easier for anyone who would like to keep current with all the exciting things that happen around here.

Hey, sooner or later, something exciting is bound to happen.

No pressure, um, but, subscribe, would you? It’ll give me a warm fuzzy and all. And a warm and fuzzy blogger is a good blogger.

Or, ain’t nobody happy if the blogger ain’t happy. So do oblige. Please?

In other news, to balance my crazy bomber dream, I recently dreamed that two white doves flew into my house (male and female). I picked one up and stroked its head, but then when I put it down, it couldn’t stand. I thought I had injured it, but no, she was giving birth, thus the trouble remaining upright. Understandable, especially because she was birthing an entire bird.

Yes, I’m well aware that birds lay eggs, but in my subconscious, birds give birth to little birds, fully formed. Maybe this is because I’m so freaking tired of seeing all these eggs around my house. Not that I don’t love them, too. Yes, I’m also well aware that I’m all over the place.

Anyway, the male was nearby helping her along, and, in case you’re wondering, all of this is supposed to signify a happy family life for P and me. I’ll spare you the corresponding lottery numbers, but if you really want to know, send me an email.

Honestly, the best part of the dream was that I was neither a killer nor the target of a killer. A good night by anyone’s standards, I would think.

On the teaching front, all continues to go well. I’ve even gained a student by word of mouth spreading, so I must’ve made a good impression during my first week. Of course, I’ve also been scolded for giving too much homework, i.e., exactly what the book provided by the school tells me to assign.

Apparently some of the kids are having difficulty working in time to do a page of exercises after each lesson. This despite the fact that I’ve told them just to give it to me when they’re done and most certainly don’t browbeat them if they haven’t finished by the next class. I don’t grade them or anything, so if they don’t feel like doing it, hey, it’s their parents’ money, right?

I know. I’m a big meanie. I’ll try to cut back.

But on the lighter side, yesterday, in the more advanced class, we did an exercise in which we were stressing the use of relative clauses to describe something when you don’t know the actual word. For example, if you don’t know the word “waiter,” you would say something like “It’s somebody who works in a restaurant and brings your food to the table.”

From my Italian experiences, I know that your phrasing can get rather creative (buying superglue the first time was awesome!), so I figured this would be good for some laughs.

Ooh boy; I had no idea.

When we got to the last word, one of my students really took it to another level. I’m paraphrasing, but the exchange went something like this:

Student A: OK, this can be a verb or a noun. I *think* that everyone here has done this with another person that you like very much….

*raised eyebrows*

Student A: You know, when you are happy, and you want to express how you feel, that you enjoy being with that person, or maybe they’ve done something nice to (she meant “for”) you….

*snicker snicker, eyebrows raising off foreheads*

Student A: I mean, you can also do this with people you don’t know at all, but….

*raucous laughter*

Student A: No! It’s something nice…and…oh! We do this when we meet someone, on each cheek!

(Finally) Student B: KISS!!

Me: See you next week! (replacing eyebrows to usual position)



[tags]dreams, doves, birds, ESL teaching, teaching[/tags]

love thursday: new experiences

school erasersSome of you know, although most of you don’t, that yesterday I was initiated into the Expats Club. Yes, I’ve been here over 3 years, but time has nothing to do with this membership. You see, in order to be a true Expat in any non-English speaking country, you must teach English.

And I’m finally in.

I’m working for a private language school, but my classes are at a local ; the students are high school age except for one who’s somewhere around my age. After Day 1, I am appreciating and loving new experiences.

school desksThe students are motivated, excited, and love to speak. I asked them to introduce themselves to one another, and they went ahead and had mostly correct conversations in English. I was just looking for “Nice to meet you.”

I have two classes, two hours each, back to back, twice a week. The first class has 4 students, and the second has just 2, so they’ll be sure to get a lot of attention. The school supplies all the materials *and* lesson plans, and from the pay they’re offering, I also won’t feel exploited, which is nice.

During the lessons, we’re the only ones in the building except for the cleaning crew. I’ve always loved schools when they’re empty, and I’m free to roam and explore. I hardly think it comes from a naughty “What can I do while others aren’t around?” vibe, as that’s so not me–more of a geeky “all these school supplies to play with” thing.

Of course, in Italian schools, Mother Hubbard’s cupboard is rather bare in that sense, I learned–can you even see the tiny bits of chalk in that picture above on the left?

I did find this, though, which, as far as I can guess, is either used to direct traffic, signal kids to be quiet, or, you know, “signal kids to be quiet”:

In my wandering, I also found one of those nifty coffee-making vending machines. I put in 2 euro because there were no prices listed but figured that should cover it, and then tried to get a cappuccino. Nothing. Caffè macchiato (espresso with a splash of milk)? Nothing. Espresso? Nope.

Finally I pressed some kind of chocolatey thing, which I was sincerely hoping was not the Ciobar-like delight I’ve praised in the past. Even though I love the rich, creamy mixture, I just wanted something to drink for caffeine’s sake.

My new friend delivered. Big time. And then gave me 1, 70 back. That was a 30 centissimi cup of heaven, my friends, and it wasn’t just one of those little espresso shot cups either. How many of those do you think I had during my 4 hours? If you guessed more than one, you’re catching on.

And then, in a move which (yet again) exposed me as a weird foreigner, while a normal person may have been pouring over the first day’s lesson plan, I was taking pictures.

I may be an English teacher, but don’t worry–I’m still a blogger first. I think you’ll see some big differences from those hospital photos I posted (thank goodness).

The atrium:

school atrium

Some of the decor:

school decor

Part of the courtyard:

school courtyard

And finally, the view from the courtyard.

view of soverato

If you look on the left where the houses meet the sea, you can see a tiny bit of the beach:

Happy Love Thursday everyone!


[tags] love thursday, soverato, calabria, ionian sea, schools, liceo, don bosco, teaching, ESL teaching, terra cotta jars, erasers, desks, courtyards, atria[/tags]

Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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Homemade apple butter
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Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
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Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake