WHAT AND HOW
Every Monday, together with Alan, we decide 5 new words we are interested in and we translate them from English, to Polish, to Italian. We write them on a big paper with oil colors, drawing some image of them: in capital letters, you find the Italian words and in small letters you find the translation in Polish. I was the one in charge of writing the Italian words and Alan was the one writing the Polish translation and he also makes drawings.
- learning new languages (Polish, English and Italian); spreading awareness about cultural diversity;
- improving non verbal expression (drawing);
- training mind flexibility and the ability of being focused;
- deepening relationships.
At the beginning, it was only a personal project, part of the school newspaper. Short people employed me as advertiser and my task was just to add some words in Italian so everyone could see them and if people were interested, they would have started to learn. From the very beginning, during the day, I found some short people, teenagers and even parents staring at the board, trying to pronunce them, laughing about the sounds of the words, and sometimes asking me for explanation.
After two boards, something great happened: Alan, 13 y.o with Asperger syndrome, was so interested that he wanted to take active part in it. He asked to get involved in the process of choosing words and then writing. When I forget to do the words or I’m late, Alan remembers me. From personal project to a shared one. I couldn’t ask for anything better! He told me he has a true passion for Italy and he would like to know more about Italian language. Alan has incredible mind, he remembers literally everything, from the small, insignificant details to the huge ones. He speaks Polish, English, German without any troubles and, overall, without mistakes. He is so fluent and British that I’m jealous. He is a fast learner when he decides to learn, when he finds something he is really interested in. This is what happened with Włoskie Słowa. He tried to learn them, repeating and using them while talking with me. He tried just few time and now, he remembers all of the 30 words. Most of them came from his stories. Alan is a storyteller: he creates stories and tales from actual facts, real environments (Szczecin, the shopping mall Galaxy, parks and fountains) and real people. He just connects all of that in a funny and creative way, making his stories really interesting for the listener. It was exactly during this storytelling that he asked me to translate some key words like train (treno), fountain (fontana), heart (cuore), rainbow (arcobaleno). And now we have almost 30 words. Still growing.
Finishing one board can take even one morning or one afternoon, but the time just flies. This has been an amazing opportunity to get to know him better, to build and strengthen our bond so that now, we are “the most friendly people at school to each other”, as Alan uses to say. We spent so much time together that now we understand each other very fast, and also we were able to get out to school together for a walk in the park, listening to his stories, in front of his favorite fountains. For me, this means he trusts me and he knows I care about him. And what is the basis for true human relationship if it’s not trust?
Włoskie Słowa has been a great success! I’m so proud and happy because with a small activity, a strong connections has been built. A small but smart idea can become a good practice even with few materials (papers, pastels), if you use imagination and creativity. Learning has to be charming: if you invite people in a funny way, without the rigidity that usually is employed in systemic schools, you fascinate people and they might be willing to be with you and learn from you. Education is preparing people to educate themselves in their own way, you just show them the tools you like and they might use them or transform them in the way they like the most.
Giulia from Italy, volunteer in Szkoła Demokratyczna Droga Wolna in Szczecin.
Project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.