I ragazzi e Manuela…

In Pisciotta, there are many children. The children in this town are free to run around at all hours of the day and night. The children are raised very differently in Pisciotta than in the United States. The parents trust the children to run around the town with the other children and they’re not expected home until very late. I suppose that’s alright though in such a small town. The population is only about 3000. In my personal opinion, the children there lacked manners and respect. Everyone has their own personal space bubble, and these children would not just invade your bubble, they would pop it as hard as they could. If you’re sitting talking with friends, they just come over and start talking. If you’re online, they want to be online with you. If you have a phone, they pretty much take it out of your hands to see what kind of phone it is and what they can do with it. If you’re skyping with someone, they stand behind you and stare at you at the other person. They were also extremely loud at all hours, running around and whatnot, screaming, blowing whistles, etc.

It seemed to me that there was a sort of hierarchy amongst the children. It didn’t necessarily go by age or gender. Two of the main “leaders” were Domenico and Manuela. We met them on the second day that we were in Pisciotta. Domenico is about nine years old, and he has the worst attitude; he was one of the rudest children that I met there. Manuela, on the other hand, was quite the interesting eleven year old. She’s very tom boy-ish and seems to take charge in a lot of the situation. Her eyes are a gorgeous sky blue. The first week or so we weren’t sure how we felt about her, but she came to be close with us. She’s help us with our Italian, and she had the best facial expressions and expressions. An eleven year old with the mentality of a forty year old. If we were wearing a sweatshirt or something off the shoulder, she’d pull it up over our shoulders! Not too  much later, she started to hug my roommate Jen and I. I think that we were the closest with her. A lot of the other students did not like her too much simply because she was a bit brutish and if she had something to say, she’d say it, in Italian of course.

One of the girls on the trip has a scar on her arm, and whenever Manuela would see it, she would cover it up and with a kind of scared voice say, “Cheschiffo!” One of the guys that was on the trip is a really big guy with a long beard and really large gauges… Manuela was legitimately afraid of him. He’s not a common sight in Italy, and especially not in our little town of Pisciotta. Even beards aren’t common in Italy, most people shave. She’d hide behind me and again say, “Cheschiffo!”  whenever he’d come around. It was a bit strange, I know she was definitely a tom-boy, but there was a part of her that just seemed very girly to me. I can’t put my finger on it, but there was something to her.

The night before we left, she wouldn’t stop hugging me. She’d hug me, go to leave, then keep coming back for another hug. This happened at least 5 times. I would really love to see how she is in a few years or so. She’s definitely one of the girls in that town that I want to keep tabs on in the future. 

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Author: Una Vagabonda

ESL teacher in Istanbul. TEFL certified and FTCE Elementary K-6 certified. I absolutely love to teach and to be around children. They always know how to put a smile on your face. Majored in Italian Studies, minoring in Religious Studies focusing on the Middle East. Studied abroad in a little town in Italy called Pisciotta this summer. Best time of my life. Studied Urbino, the town where Rafaello was born, for a fall semester. Learning Turkish. I’m having severe cravings for Long Island bagels and Chinese food.

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