Friday, 14 September 2018

Educational visits.

My Italian friend and teacher put a request out in Facebook to other language teachers asking if anyone knows of good agencies that coordinate sixth form trips abroad. She wants to,take her A Level Italian students to Venice for Carnevale.

It’s a lovely idea. You make your students read and learn about these events and it strikes you that it would be wonderful for them to experience them first hand.

But then, I find myself thinking, maybe she hasn’t seen this article about the problems in Venice with their attitude towards tourists. Venice, like Barcelona and Prague and other cities that have become popular weekend tourist breaks and destinations for stag/hen parties, is suffering from a tourist glut.

It’s one of the strange things about the modern world that what once seemed like a huge benefit - in this case tourists coming and spending money in your city - gradually turns into a negative thing.

And Air b’n’b hasn’t helped at all.

That’s another thing that was a brilliant idea that has turned out to have a downside. It no doubt works really well for tourists looking for cheap accommodation close to city centres but it’s pricing ordinary working people out of the cities. Young people can’t afford to live independently in the places they were born and grew up in, or where they have found work and sometimes families are being evicted from flats they have lived in for years so that the owners can make money out of casual holiday lets.

Getting back to the Venice trip question, I wonder about visiting at carnival time. We visited Venice a couple of times, ten years or so ago now and found it quite crowded even at relatively quiet times of the year. In fact, reading the article I linked to earlier, we reflected that we had been at the right time. Now it must be hard to move around the city. And at carnival time it will be impossible.

It’s a bit like thinking about visiting Pamplona in Spain and deciding to go during the San Fermines so that you can see the running of the bulls. Okay, I exaggerate a little!

The thing is that I have organised student visits abroad and know how hard it is to be responsible for a bunch of teenagers who all want to do their own thing. Taking a bunch of teenage girls in strappy tops around the market in Malaga was fun. The catcalls from the stall holders, even though expressing appreciation of my girls’ feminine charms, were quite something!

On the other hand, maybe my friend should organise her Venice trip before Brexit makes that kind of educational visit even more difficult.

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