Amelia Hoffmann - 2015 Program Participant 

English camp volunteers in Bajardo, Italy

Orientation roommates representing Ireland, South Africa, and America

Why did you decide to apply for an international program?

Following a teaching term in Thailand and a backpacking trip through Asia, I decided to get a change of scenery. A friend from Thailand had participated in A.C.L.E. the summer prior, and recommended it.

Why did you choose A.C.L.E. over other program opportunities?

As stated above, the program was recommended to me by a friend. I wanted to go to Europe, Italy specifically, and thought this would be the perfect way. I cannot afford to travel much without working, and I prefer working while traveling anyway since you get a better experience than you would being a tourist. The program appealed to me because you are paid to travel around Italy, basically. I liked the idea of being somewhere new every one to two weeks, as well as staying with host families. You also have the freedom choose your contract period, as long as it exceeds four weeks.

Where was your program held? What did you like most about the location of your program?

The program was held in a town outside San Remo. I loved it because of the chance to go to Bajardo before the one week orientation and the proximity to San Remo. Everywhere you go in Italy is beautiful, and the area surrounding the resort we stayed in was no exception. As for my specific locations in Italy, I was all over the place!

What was your favorite part of your program?

There are not too many programs that I'm aware of that move their teachers (tutors) around so frequently. Essentially, you are being paid to travel Italy. My favorite part was the stay with Italian host families. They absolutely spoil you with amazing meals and small trips when there is time. I was able to see a vast amount of Italy from both the perspective of a tourist and a local.

Volunteer with local kids in Italy

At camp with my host kids and coworkers

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

I remained in pretty close contact with staff throughout my employment. I was moving pretty frequently, so questions about trains, travel, etc. were answered through them. Personally, I always found staff to be helpful, and during orientation I felt that all of my questions or concerns were addressed. Prior to the week long orientation, I felt that I had the information needed. There were plenty of information packets and emails keeping me in the loop. You are also given such a large amount of information and material (it is not overwhelming by the end of the week), so you are never without material, which is a huge support, especially if you have not taught before.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

Stayed in Bajardo (the free accommodation participants are offered if they arrive before orientation) longer. Worried less.

What was a typical day like for you in Italy?

An Italian breakfast was served buffet style around 8:00 a.m., and participants needed to be in the meeting room at 9:00 a.m. There were around 60 people, so getting to the breakfast early was a good idea. The orientation was held in a large meeting room. We started off with a warm-up circle like everyone does for camps, which usually lasted around a half hour. Then we would either listen to a presentation on a topic or divide into different groups to work on specific teaching methods or aspects of camps.

There was an hour for lunch (again provided in buffet style for everyone, as were all meals) and quick breaks during the day as well. The day ended at around 6:00 p.m., with two hours of free time before dinner at 8:00 p.m. I found the program to be very structured and organized.

What did you like doing on your free time?

A few of us would go on evening runs before dinner. We found a path that led to an amazing view of the seaside. Otherwise, there wasn't too much free time as there is a lot to do in one short week. After dinner ended, typically around 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m., I would relax and go to bed. The days are exhausting because you are simulating how camp will be, which requires a lot of energy.

View of a vineyard in Tuscany, Italy

A wine tasting in Tuscany

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

We stayed in a resort with four people to a room. While it was not ideal since two people were on a couch or futon, for the low price we paid it was fine. Included in your cost is the food, training materials, actual training, and every meal, but one in San Remo. For what we paid, it was definitely a good deal. There was a pool as well as nearby towns to explore. It was a pretty quiet town in general.

How has your time abroad impacted your life at home?

This program offered me the opportunity to see a beautiful country that I otherwise could not have afforded to see, allowed me to meet and stay with local families, and allowed me to meet great people from around the world.

Living with the host families was an absolutely unforgettable experience and I was able to really get a view of Italy from a local's point of view.

Volunteer in Italy with local host family

One of the many extraordinary host families I was lucky to stay with

I am still in contact with several of my host families. I ended up traveling afterwards with people I met in the program, and I picked up a few pounds from all the amazing Italian food and wine! I've never been more spoiled. This is such a great program if you are in university or a have a break in the summer and want to make some extra cash/do some traveling in a unique way.