Lauren Massey spends the summer teaching in Italy
Teaching in Italy broadened horizons for Sabetha Elementary School first grade teacher Lauren Massey, who spent a month teaching in Italy.
Massey’s usual summer breaks involve traveling and a summer camp in the Rocky Mountains, but she wanted to try something new.
“This summer, I wanted to challenge myself and do something outside my comfort zone that would make me a better teacher,” she said.
Massey challenged herself by venturing out on her own — not knowing anyone. She took the position with The English Camp Company, which is a summer camp with English classes held each morning.
The experience included a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday. The daily activities began with warm up for an hour — singing songs and playing games with the children. Following warm up, it was classroom time for the rest of the morning until 1 p.m.
After lunch, Massey helped with fun “camp activities,” such as a talent show, water day, dodgeball, scavenger hunt and other activities. During the afternoon, the teachers would be in teams, which had children of all ages. Massey’s students were ages 6 to 9, but there were children at the camp up to age 14.
Massey describes the young Italian students as “amazing, crazy and fun.”
“They have such an energy that is contagious and I loved being around them every day,” she said.
One of the biggest challenges for Massey was probably at her first camp.
“I had a class of about 15 and none of the students could speak English besides ‘Hello,’” she said. “This was a great challenge though because I was able to really stretch myself to come up with new ways of communication until we learned some basic words.”
While in Italy, Massey stayed with a host family, which was one of the best parts of her experience.
“I was a bit nervous because I had never had the host family experience, but I would do it again in a heartbeat,” she said. “They really treated me like their own daughter. They would take me most nights out to see the area. I am still in contact with them since coming home and hope to be able to see them again some day.”
“The main differences from the U.S. that stick out to me are how each meal — especially dinner — was never rushed,” she said. “Dinner was late — usually around 9:30 or 10 p.m. and would finish up sometimes around midnight.”
Massey described Italians as never being in a rush to get anywhere — especially those from the deep southern part of Italy. This is such a change from the fast-paced U.S. lifestyle that Massey typically experiences.
“But they are very relaxed and just go with the flow and if they are late, then usually they are on time,” she said. “This was an area that I had to adjust because I love being early.”
About The English Camp Company
To be considered for a position, Massey had to submit an application and meet the following requirements: be over age 18, a native English speaker, outgoing and energetic personality, prefers to be active, is enthusiastic to work with children, organized, able to work on a team, be responsible for self and others, and be someone who enjoys new experiences and visiting new cultures.
“When looking at jobs overseas, this company kept showing up on all of my searches with amazing reviews,” Massey said.
Once her application was reviewed, she had an interview via Skype.
Massey is originally from Lawrence. This is her fourth year teaching first grade at Sabetha Elementary School.