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Monday, September 8, 2014

Final Thoughts on Parma, Italy--San Benedetto

Hello everyone! After a few months since my departure from the wonderful city of Parma, Italy, I think I have successfully integrated back into American life, as well as back into the Boston College scene. Looking back, I had such a wonderful experience in Parma and I wish so badly the chance to go back and just spend one more day in the Piazza and enjoy a coffee. Those were the days…

But I have been busy since my last post! During the summer I worked full time at the BC Campus School working as the school TA “float,” meaning that I work in every single classroom of students. This was such a pleasure for me and so much fun because I got to know every student in the school, and not just my usual group of 4-6 students. It was much more than knowing a student’s name—it was knowing their needs, their quirks, and their best learning styles. The BC Campus School is such a special place and I was so glad to spend yet another summer working there.

With the Campus School in mind, this brings me to my discussion about my Parma practicum experience, where I did not work in special education setting. If you are unfamiliar with the Campus School, it is a school for students with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities. While I did not come in contact with any students from this population in Italy, there are for certain there. Furthermore, I did not work with any students—to my knowledge (an important distinction)—that have autism, learning disability or ADHD. It would have been interesting to have had a conversation with my teacher about IEPs and special education in Italy with my teacher, but it was a conversation that never came up. This is something looking back I regret not having done. I am sure that teachers and administrators have to develop some sort of plan for students with unique needs, but I am unsure of the process that it entails.

In a couple of weeks from now, I will begin my third pre-practicum (at a location TBD), which I am very excited to start. It will be my first experience back in a traditional school setting since working at the San Benedetto School in Parma. I am excited to begin a inquiry process about the similarities and differences between my new and old students. An ocean may separate them geographically, a difference in language and culture, but I truly believe that there is a unifying quality amongst all children, regardless of where they are from. All children are programed to be curious individuals, with the potential to learn. It was amazing to watch children I had never met, speaking a language I barely understood become so excited about seeing my PowerPoints about this magical land called America. I remember being amazed at watching Fourth of July firework shows when I was younger, and when I showed my class of 11 year olds this in Italy, there was the same face of wonder. A moment I hope to not forget in my teaching career.

And with that, I think that is a good place to wrap up! The largest thing I took away from Italy was that there are more similarities than connect us as people than things that make us different from one another. And even those differences are something to be celebrated, and I am ever conscious of that now than ever, and I have my practicum to thank for that.  


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