A January full of emotion
The first month of the year was extremely emotional for our adult and children at English World. For the adults, we started two new courses in January, one for intermediate level students, with Cecilia, a teacher who worked for us in 2012 and 2013, who we are delighted to welcome back to the school. Thanks to her return we were able to satisfy 15 adults who had been waiting to start courses.
In addition to weekly courses we had our first Culture Club meeting of the new year. On Friday 17th January, Jenny Bawtree came to the school to tell us about her latest project ‘the labours of the month’: a trip around Italy from Aosta to Otranto to discover Medieval art and culture by studying the many representations of the farmers yearly calendar that appear in churches and other buildings, and which Jenny has collated in order to publish in a book.
Jenny Bawtree is an English lady who arrived in Italy more than 50 years ago, thanks to her love of Tuscany; after having worked as a teacher in Florence, she opened a holiday farm house in Montevarchi, one of the first in Italy. She published the book ‘the book of Pietro’ for the Terra Nuova magazine, translated also in English, and at the moment she is working on the story of her holiday farm house, in addition to pursuing her passion for Art History.
With the help of numerous slides, Jenny showed us various representations of the labours of the months and explained the different styles and techniques used to create them in many Italian churches, but concentrated on the nearest church to us, the Pieve di S. Maria Assunta in Arezzo. Sipping a glass of good locally produced rosé wine, the participants listened with great interest and learned some new terminology in English for speaking about the world of agriculture. The next time that we visit one of the many sites described by the author, I am sure we will pay far more attention to noting the details of this fascinating form of medieval art.
The second term began to for our children with the addition of a new elementary school course to satisfy some of the children on the waiting list. We have now reached the incredible number of 120 children who attend courses every week at the school and we are immensely proud of this fact.
Our older children from 8 to 14 years of age, were invited to attend an extremely special event: on Wednesday 22nd January our director Alison, dressed as Mary Poppins, welcomed Caterina Bellandi, the immensely colourful Florentine taxi driver known as Zia (aunt) Caterina, who drives children free of charge to the Meyer children’s hospital in Florence. In addition to her daily job, Zia Caterina always makes time to enthusiastically meet people interested in her work and to speak to them about facing death, the pain and problems that life presents us. Caterina parked her taxi in front of the school and entered with great energy! The children and some of their parents and grandparents were waiting for her in our room Wonderland; it was an emotional hour for both the children and the adults. At the end of the time between selfies, hugs, smile and tears, we said our goodbyes and promised to invite her back to the school in the near future. For all of those unable to attend the event, we would like to remind you that it is possible to support Zia Caterina’s charity by buying a book at our reception.
On Saturday 25th January it was time for another of our regular children’s workshops; this time, the theme was taken from a scene in the first Mary Poppin’s film, the scene of feed the birds. The children painted little bird houses and then created balls of seeds to hang outside to feed the birds during the winter months. Seven children took part in the workshop with their usual enthusiasm and put their manual skills to work, whilst listening to Mary Poppins music in the background. It was a very satisfying morning.
And now we can’t wait for February to arrive, and we can tell you immediately that this too will be a busy month: there is the workshop for Saint Valentine’s Day, we will be taking part in the San Giovanni carnival with lots of Mary Poppins costumes for the children and their will be a Culture Club meeting about mindfulness for the adults … keep an eye on our Facebook page to keep up to date with all of our news and events.