While in class one day in Lucca, we got the opportunity to ask my teacher Stefano any questions that we had about Italy, about life, or about Lucca. While this was a great opportunity to learn about some of the regional foods (and some of the best places to eat those foods locally), there was one thing that my teacher shared that really caught my attention.
A fellow classmate had asked Stefano, “if you had to pick one word to describe Lucca, what would it be?” At first Stefano was perplexed, maybe even overwhelmed. . .“only one word?” It seemed like it almost felt impossible for him to choose just one word to describe a city with such history, such culture, and such diversity. But then after a moment of thought, he responded, “armonia.”
the beautiful ceilings at the Koinè Center all feature a different fresco
Stefano explained that nowhere else in Italy could you be in such beautiful countryside (and Tuscan countryside at that), and in one day’s time be able to visit the mountains, go to the beach, and be back home in the city for dinner and a movie. There is a balance here in Lucca, and most definitely, harmony.
this was one of the classrooms that I worked in while in Lucca
And it is with that same idea of harmony that I found the teaching methods at the Koinè Center. There is no separation in class between the grammar work and the building of conversation skills, it is all one in the same. And although I only spent one week there, I immediately noticed a fluidity to the class that simply followed the needs of the students, and the questions that arose.
This learning method and experience was unlike any that I have ever had before, and to be honest, it caught me a little bit by surprise. But by the time the week wrapped up, I was definitely able to see the value in solely spending hours everyday just talking. After not having taken any classes back home for almost one year, being thrown into this conversation-based teaching method really helped me to feel comfortable speaking Italian quickly.
In all honesty, I went into my course expecting a similar experience to other programs that I have attended. But what I came out with was much greater than just new language skills. In addition to gaining a new perspective on learning, I was also reminded of something very important: keep an open mind to new experiences, because you might just find yourself surprised by the harmony that awaits.
This post was a collaboration with the Koinè Center in Lucca. Although my classes were complimentary, no financial compensation was received in exchange for my writing. All of the opinions that I have expressed and written here are my own, and are an honest account of my experience.