TUTOR ENVERA SULJIC ABOUT THORNTON DONOVAN SCHOOL: the first cultural exchanges QAR participated in.

/ Blog, Blog Docenti, Progetti>Scambio culturale con Thornton Donovan School of New York, QAR1

“Quarto Anno Rondine (QAR) is one of the projects of Rondine Cittadella della Pace that offers an opportunity to the fourth year of Italian high school students to study in an open, international and dynamic environment. This has been the second year that the project is happening and among the usual courses the students had had to go through, they got a chance too to host 4 American students from a sister school, Thornton- Donovan, New York. This has been one of the first cultural exchanges QAR participated in, but surely not the last one.

The exchange consisted of sending 5 students from the first QAR generation to the Thornton- Donovan and welcoming their students to QAR as well. Benjamin, Gavin, Nicki and Rayaan were the students from TD who accepted the challenge and have decided to come to Rondine and QAR to explore, learn and work on the future betterment and a change of the world. Their curriculum consisted of attending Rondine Quarto Anno Liceale d’Eccellenza as well as taking lessons at an Italian high school Vittoria Colonna, another partner on this project brought by the irreplaceable Mrs. Stella Ficcai, English language teacher at the aforementioned school.

As previously mentioned, the educational part of the exchange was divided among QAR and the Vittoria Colonna, while the formative part was planned and organised by Rondine, in order to improve their skills and to give them something more to take back to TD and their peers. This involved projecting a research on any topic interesting for the exchange students, developed with my help and the help of Noam, tutors of the QAR and the exchange students; it involved betterment of the Italian language, because they have started learning it even before, but with a constant use at QAR and Vittoria Colonna have actually managed to get to know all of the shades of this wonderful and old communication medium.

The used methodology involved open discussions, presentations, collaboration and above all peer education, because in this way the students are more attentive to what they are being taught, have more interest in the topic and feel more useful because their contribution is noted.

One of the focal points of the QAR is the training course Ulysse, the training course divided into three parts that teaches students about their relation with themselves, their environment and the technology. As it was at its beginning when the exchange started, the TD students took full participation and have been quite satisfied with the how the whole process has gone. So far they have covered theories about the conflict resolution (with the focus on interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts), introduction to human rights and the presentations of the cultures and conflicts done by the students present in the International Hall of Residence (the main Rondine projects, that involves youth from post and conflict areas that come together to learn more about their past, so that they could build a better future).

While students have been diving into new academic challenges and victories, they have been also introduced to the rich Italian culture by visiting different regions and cities with their host families. They have had a chance to visit Siena, Pompei, Roma, Firenze, Cortona and few other places where they could have got first hand experience of the diversity of the Italian culture and tradition, the old one as well as the modern one.

My role in this project was the one of the tutor for the exchange students; to help them with the language adaptation and barrier (if needed), introduction to the Rondine- its history and projects, coordination between the activities of the exchange and the students of the International Hall of Residence, their help during the period of the adaptation to the new environment and school as well as the follow up of their personal growth and change.

A such opportunity can show up so easily only during the experience of Rondine and is a big and important step for a young person. Working with them I have understood and started to appreciate more the importance of the meeting between generations and different cultures and more than anything the importance of collaborative education (informal and non- formal education to be more specific).

Leaving them the freedom to choose their research topics, I was positively surprised how maturely and seriously they have taken on these assignments and this experience; how delicately they have touched and explained certain topics and movements and how dedicated they have been to this exchange and their change. These are the things worth of our admiration because, unfortunately, we do not see them often even though they are very much needed, in the world and in Rondine.

To work with youth is to put a lot of effort and one’s time; it is stressful, but at the same time wonderful and exciting job because, sometimes, certain results can be seen immediately. The projects of exchange, like this one, where students/youth are conscious of all risks and possibilities of a failure yet decide to ‘go with the flow’ are of extreme importance because only learning from one’s own mistakes is the way to actually learn and change something”.

Envera Suljic
American Students Tutor
Quarto Anno Rondine