[Above: Maree (center) with her host mom Annamaria (left) and host sister Nicoletta (right)]
With a a childlike curiosity and wonder of the world beyond her own, 57-year-old retired nurse Maree Taberner embarked on an adventure in May 2015. Placed in the small town Perugia, Italy in the Umbria region, Maree is currently participating in the Teach in a Homestay program. She shared with Greenheart Travel the following thoughts on her first few weeks in Italy:
By Maree Taberner, Teach in a Homestay Italy participant
Blessed is what I feel. From the warm, welcoming arrival in Italy, to meeting my extended host family, to exploring a rural part of Italy I’d never have the opportunity to visit, it has been amazing here in every way.
My host Annamaria and I are constantly learning from each other during meals with the family or by sharing of recipes. We even practice English together in the car while going about all the normal things in the daily upkeep of life, like visits to the gym or shopping at the supermarket.
We laugh a lot. At times, the English lessons (and my attempts at speaking Italian) look more like a game of charades, with arms flying in the air. Then we collapse in laughter and relief when we understand the word or the phrase we were trying to convey. I’ve been attending gym classes, and not understanding a word of it, but also not caring that I can’t understand as long as the male Italian instructor keeps talking and counting in Italian.
I feel as if I’m living the dream in rural Umbria, Italy. If I am dreaming, don’t wake me up. I have had the opportunity to explore an underground city in Perugia, step inside amazing churches in Assisi, climb breathtaking stairs to even more breathtaking views of the Umbria region. What really stands out for me is the scenery I have been happily living in for the past few weeks. It has the green rolling hills and tall majestic cypress dotted throughout the countryside where the terracotta tiled roofs and stone houses cluster on hilltops overlooking valleys of olive groves. This is Umbria. This is Italy.
The memorable moments made here are many, and are often the most simple of things — spending time with friends who have welcomed me into their homes and hearts or taking walks along narrow country roads lined with poppies with the distant sound of bells ringing. These moments make for a perfect day.
Everything from the weather to the spectacular scenery to the scrumptiously delicious food has surpassed anything I could have imagined. To say I am grateful for this experience is an understatement. This and so much more is embedded in my heart along with the lifetime friendships developed along the way.
I would encourage anyone who wants to share, learn, live, better understand and appreciate each other’s’ worlds and come out happier and better people to enroll in this program. I give a many, many thanks to Greenheart Travel for assisting me to have this experience. The concept of immersion in culture has captured my heart and I am in love Italy.