Imagine walking into a room filled with fifty students, some of whom you may have a met a few weeks ago, but many of whom are total strangers. Then someone asks you to sit down in a group of five or six, introduce yourself, and make conversation for an hour. Now consider that only half the people in your group speak your language, while the others speak a completely different mother tongue. Sound like a recipe for one very quiet and possibly awkward evening?
Quite the opposite! Last Wednesday, sixty American and Italian students met to kick off Tandem for 2009. Every semester the Umbra Institute organizes this language exchange program as a way for students to practice their conversational Italian.
In doing so, our American students studying at Umbra get the opportunity to meet Italians friends and become more integrated within the greater international student community here in Perugia. The Italians, in turn, are always eager for a chance to practice their English with native speakers. The result turned out to be a very noisy evening, and when we finally ended the official Tandem, many students left school with new friends and headed out to Perugia’s pizzerias and cafes for dinner and drinks. Tandem is off to a great start for 2009, and see you in a week for the next meeting!