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CiaoItaly celebrates its first 10 years of activity in Turin

Published Lynne Farrugia on Friday, February 23, 2018

2018 is an important year for Turin’s Italian language and culture school CiaoItaly: the centre is in fact celebrating the 10th anniversary of its activity. We talked about this with Dr Chiara Avidano, the school’s founder and director.

 

How did the idea of ​​opening a school come about? Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a teacher. After I graduated in Philosophy from Turin’s University, I tried to find work in state schools and started to do a PhD in Italian Studies. Unfortunately, very soon both paths proved to be unachievable. Fortunately, over the years, I had continued to cultivate my passion for languages ​​and the fact I could speak English, French, German and Spanish opened the doors of many language schools in my city and so I started teaching Italian in a number of business courses. I immediately became passionate about this wonderful job, which in Turin, at the beginning of 2000, was so occasional as to represent just a beautiful hobby. For many years I continued to do other jobs, always leaving a bit of space in the evenings to work with the schools offerine Italian courses to the foreign managers working for companies in the city. The breakthrough came in 2008, when I was given an annual teaching contract at Turin’s Polytechnic. With that limited economic certainty and my parents’ help, I was able to devote myself full-time to my dream and so CiaoItaly was born. At the beginning, it was really a very small affair: we only had 75 students, whereas today we have 400. These may seem small numbers, compared to those recorded in other regions of Italy with a greater tourist intake, but they are extremely significant in a city like Turin, which is learning to become attractive to tourists. Over the past 10 years, CiaoItaly has really grown: at the beginning there were a couple of teachers and I spent more than 100 hours a month teaching in the classroom; now I have almost 15 employees, we have become CILS and AIL exams centre and our Master’s in in the pedagogy of Italian as a foreign and as a second language has had great success over the years. Unfortunately, I do not teach any more, but the management of the whole school is very stimulating.

 

How has the city of Turin changed over the past 10 years? When I founded CiaoItaly, the 2006 Winter Olympics had just ended and, finally, there was beginning to be more interest in our city, which although beautiful, has always been neglected due to its reputation as an industrial centre. In the last 10 years, fortunately, the perspective has changed: the local administration has worked hard to enhance the appeal of our region and the courses offered by our universities have increased and improved. Turin is today very attractive to university students because it offers excellent courses run by the Polytechnic, the Conservatoire, the Albertina Academy and by IED, the European Institute of Design. It's really a much livelier and more international city than the one I grew up in.

 

What is the most exciting part of your work? Listening to our students' stories, helping them solve their everyday difficulties and, above all, seeing them, every day, happy and enthusiastic to come to school and participate in our leisure activities and trips.

 

What was the most exciting moment experienced with your school? Every day bring new emotions: they come from the students who bring you a gift, who come back to see you because they are passing through Turin and want to say hallo, who invite you to their weddings or send you the photos of their children when they are born. I was very excited when IED entrusted me with all their Italian courses and also when we started to manage the Marco Polo and Turandot projects, devoted to Chinese students. Being elected to the boards of directors of ASILS and AIL, two of the trade associations of which CiaoItaly is a member, also gave me great satisfaction. The opportunity to meet important and qualified entrepreneurs working in this sector has meant I have made new friends and learned many things which have allowed me to grow in my work. I also felt great satisfaction when ASILS asked me to take on the headship of the Association’s Press Office. It was a job I had done before and I liked it very much. It’s been like going back in time and rediscovering my passion for writing.

 

What was the most difficult moment? The early years were certainly very hard. To keep costs down, I was doing everything, including the cleaning. At the beginning, the money is always short and there is never any financial support, even from the institutions. Sometimes you feel really frustrated because you cannot do everything you would like to do and then you always feel enormous pressure because of your responsibilities towards your employees. But they are the ones who, with their passion and dedication, make the school thrive and they cannot be disappointed or betrayed.

 

Do you remember a student in particular? There are so many I could mention, especially the ones whom I personally taught: Yifei, who is now like a younger brother to me; Debbie, my American "second mother"; Christopher, the Polish priest who blessed my new car; Dino, my extremely tall Croatian student who hated pronouns; Ana Silvia and Josè, my dear Brazilian friends, with whom I shared unforgettable moments; Michael and Karin from Germany, an entrepreneur and a top manager respectively, who gave me so much good advice; Lunara, who was always concerned that I should find a husband; Timur, who filled my school with Kazakh students; Paulina and Alla, who have become close friends even if we have very little time to meet ... And there are many more who have a place in my heart. This is a beautiful job because it allows you to meet many interesting people and to share magical moments with them. In a language school there is always an atmosphere of great joy and positive emotions, because when you work with people, in addition to offering excellent service, you must put your heart in what you do.

 

How do you plan to celebrate your 10th anniversary? There will be many gifts and many special promotions for everyone.

 

Do you have any plans for the future? Many: to start making promotional trips abroad, to publish CiaoItaly’s own teaching materials, to obtain state validation of our teacher-training courses.

 

Do you have any secret dreams? To make a promotional video using a song by Luca Carboni, my favorite Italian singer, as a soundtrack.

 

School contact details:

CIAOITALY

Via Alfonso Lamarmora, 31  – 10129 Torino

Tel. +39.011.59.38.72 

www.ciaoitaly-turin.com

e-mail: info@ciaoitaly-turin.com



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