In-depth 4

Ciao! Weeks six and seven of in-depth have been going along beautifully, and I am very happy with my progress so far! I was able to meet up with my mentor, and we had a very lengthy but informative discussion about the Italian culture. I am visiting Italy for three weeks this summer, so I am very interested in the history and the traditions there. I completed a short assignment on the formation of Italy, the culture, and some of the holidays there as a part of the online course I am enrolled in, but I am always open and enthusiastic about learning more. My mentor told me about her experience with Italian culture, and about the first time she visited Italy. We had a very intriguing discussion comparing American/ Canadian cultures and societal norms to Italian cultures and societal norms. I love being able to immerse myself in new cultures and traditions, so learning as much as I can about Italy before my trip is very important to me.
As far as the learning of Italian is going, I am a little bit behind on my online course. I will be able to catch up fairly easily, but I have had a lot of homework and extracurriculars recently that have made it hard. On top of that, I am currently in a French class at school, so I need to learn to better distinguish between Italian grammar rules and French grammar rules. All that being said, I am loving the Italian class I am enrolled in, and learning this new language has been such as incredible experience so far.
In Edward de Bono’s How to Have a Beautiful Mind, de Bono lists listening and asking questions as two important qualities of a good interaction. This week, I had the opportunity to do a lot of both while meeting with my mentor. As opposed to our last couple of meetings where we have gotten together and gone over the syllabus and my homework, this meeting involved a lot of me asking questions about anything I wanted to know. I was very focused on learning about the Italian culture, and I had to listen intently and take notes while she was answering my questions so that I could look into them on my own in the future. For example, I asked my mentor about the most significant Italian holidays every year, and she explained what Saint days are. Every day of the year has a Catholic Saint associated to it, and every city in Italy has a Patron Saint. This means that, if you are in the town of Pisa on June 17th, there will be a big feast to celebrate Saint Ranieri. I was very confused about this, until I asked a question about the most well know saint days. There is on coming up in just a couple of days; on March 17th many people around the world celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Another common one that just passed about a month ago is St Valentine’s Day. I had to ask a lot of follow up question to fully grasp the concept, such as which Saints have a day (all of them), how they decide when the day will fall (based on the Saint’s death day), and who celebrates these days (Catholic Italian citizens who live in the city where the Saint of the day was a patron). It took a lot of independent research on my part, but I finally understand more about how Saint days work. My mentor is Catholic and I am not, however she assured me that you only have to participate in the festivities if you feel comfortable, and that the feasts are not overly religious.
Throughout our meeting, I made sure to ask interesting questions that moved the conversation forwards, such as the ones I listed above. I also made sure to listen intently, as everything my mentor was saying was really cool and valuable to me. I am very excited for the next weeks of in-depth, and although I am away for a lot of spring break, I am excited to continue learning Italian with the support of my incredible mentor. Addio, ci vediamo!