Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I say seat-belts, you say: Cosa mangiano?

I had a meeting at the European School yesterday. All five fifth grade classes are going on a week-long field-trip, the meeting was meant to bring all the parents together and answer some questions we might have regarding the trip. There are five sections at the school: Italian, English, Dutch, German and French. The largest classes are the Italian and the English one, so there were many more Italian speaking and English speaking parents at the meeting. The meeting was held in Italian; many parents in the English speaking section are not fluent in Italian... I did my share of translating to the people siting next to me, but many others were not getting a word of what was being said. Finally one of the mothers raised her hand and asked the director to get someone to translate. A teacher was summoned to the table, and took on the job. Chaos was avoided.
We learned about the logistics of the trip, and found out all the fun activities the children are going to enjoy. We are talking about 10-11 year olds, 106 of them, all together on a beautiful farm, playing soccer, making ceramics, going to visit caves, castles, beaches... 5 days of independence!
When the time came for our questions, it was very interesting how culturally different they were. The Italian mothers wanted to know why the kids were not allowed to bring their cell phones to the trip, as they were going to be away from home for FIVE whole days! The kids, they reasoned, will want to talk to mama. The organizers answered that this was an opportunity to start cutting the umbilical cord and grow up. I couldn't agree more, yet the Italians were not happy about their children not being able to stay in touch.
Next question: What about those t-shirts that the kids will wear during outings: When will we get them? -They will be given to each child on the first day of the field-trip. NO, NO replied the Italian mothers. We need them ahead of time. We need to wash them and get them ready for the kids. -OK. We will get the t-shirts before hand, I hope I remember to wash my son's!
Another question? What will they eat? came the question from the Italian side. They have their priorities straight, don't they? --Not to worry, the farm is a famous agriturismo with really good reputation. One of the teachers said that he gains a couple kilos every time. Approving nods all-around.
Yes? a question from the English section? -What about the issue of seat-belts on the buses? We have discussed this issue at large in our class, as it seems that every year there are buses without seat-belts. We have been assured in writing that the buses will have seat-belts. Yes, we replied, but that was the case last year and they did not comply! This time they will, the organizers replied. How do we know this is true? It is a 6 hour trip on Italian freeways! Boh! was their reply. Our class representative volunteer to go to the bus provider and check the buses before hand. Thanks we said, this is important to us.
We came out of the meeting knowing this trip is going to be unforgettable for the kids. They do not know how they will get there, or what food they will eat. All they know is that they are going to have the time of their lives.
Have fun Nico!

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