Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Class of One
Having learned our lesson that in Lucca it is not considered bad form at all to keep bothering administrators and bureaucrats to make sure something gets done, we took T's professor seriously when he said we should follow up with the letter her school sent home advertising an Italian language after-school class for foreigners.

First there was an awkward phone call with the class coordinator. Several days later, we met with the Professor in question at a nearby professional institute/high school. Prof. M is a commanding presence (and not someone you would want to see mad), but he has the twinkly kind of eyes that give away that he has a good sense of humor. He explained to us that they had gotten a state grant for the class because of the large number of foreign students in recent years that are studying in Lucca.

We sought Prof. out early yesterday morning, the day when her class was supposed to start, so that we would know what room to go to after school and avoid bringing T in late, a pre-teen embarrassment to be avoided at all costs.  Then we met with him again that afternoon with T--the only one of the ten slated children to show up at all.  That's right, T was the only one who had type-A foreign parents that actually bothered to make an appearance for the free tutoring. As a consequence, T had a private two hour lesson with a lovely teacher whose husband works with J Crew on their Italian leather shoes. Since she has a daughter just two years younger than T so she knew how to chat her up and assess her language skills. We assume the other kids will show up by next week and that there must have been some confusion in communication between the two middle schools and the host school.

We actually knew that the other two American kids, twins who did not know any Italian when they arrived here in Lucca, would not show up at the class because they decided to home school and have dropped out of T's middle school altogether. This development helped T to understand why we had made her have so many Italian lessons before we came here and what a good job she is doing that she is able to hold her own language-wise after such a short amount of time.

Only in Italy, though... I remember waiting in line at 5 AM with a friend to get her into a Brooklyn pre-school and assigning all the subsequent arrivals numbers such as: "Hi, I'm crazy number one and this is my friend crazy number two, so that would make you crazy number three" and so on. But she got in. And in Lucca, like everywhere else,  persistence counts. We got our permesso, didn't we?

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