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All's well that...

Anna Bilicka

All's well that...

This year's project (a three-week work placement in Sicily for chefs and pastry chefs) was, as usual, a success, but it was different from previous ones due, among other things, to the difficulties arising from the world getting to know COVID.

The first but not the only obstacle appeared when I started organising the language course that would prepare the group for the trip to Italy. Having learnt from the previous editions of the Erasmus+ projects, I was looking for an individual teacher who would teach our trainees at school. I started looking in September (the course was supposed to start in November), but I was only half successful in January. Firstly, it turned out that the hourly rates had risen and that, in the pandemic, the lecturers did not want to come to the school even for a small group of 6 people, who, after all, could be disinfected and set up "masked" in a large room far away from the teacher. Having searched the job portals for foreign language teachers, I sent out job offers, made x number of phone calls - the greatest effect, however, was a positive response from one Italian teacher who, unfortunately, could not be hired because she was on sick leave due to pregnancy. Time was running out and I realised that I couldn't do anything on my own and that I had to look for help in language schools, which I had avoided because of the high price of their services. Finally, I chose a language school, got a teacher for my group (a young Italian who spoke Polish) and in March (and it was supposed to be November) we started our Italian classes. The delayed start of the course and the high price had the unfortunate effect of shortening the course and reducing the number of hours (from the planned 60 to 30). The aim of the course was to learn the basics of the vocational language. However, life writes its own scenarios and out of the six participants, only two were willing to learn systematically, one of them liked Italian so much that she went on to study Italian. The others had to rely on fate and learned the language in its natural environment, during the internship in Italian restaurants and cafés, supporting themselves when necessary with not necessarily fluent English

Another disappointment was this time a poor preparation of the traineeship by the intermediary company, with which we had previously worked perfectly. This time, something was clearly not working. Let me give you some examples: a long (three-day) testing of participants (despite the fact that they were vaccinated and had up-to-date results of COVID tests), accommodation of very poor quality in comparison to previous projects (fleas in rooms were the top), last-minute changes of trips without the participants' consent or the language course scheduled for 3 weeks of mobility but conducted on the last day before the group's departure, etc.

Unfortunately, the cooperation with the intermediary organisation ended with a long list of complaints drawn up by the participants and our formal complaint sent to their CEO. The intermediary organisation could have defended itself with an apology and acknowledgement of its fault, but this was not the case and they tried to justify themselves by the fact that they cannot be held responsible for the organisation of the work at the hotel that they had chosen.

The lack of satisfacion with the intermediary organisation’s job fortunately did not overshadow the trainees' satisfaction with their work in small family-run Italian companies and with the overall organisation of the project. The greatest reward for the school was the fact that our trainees acquired professional and language competences abroad and that their work was appreciated by their Italian employers. We also appreciate very much the fact that we managed to organise this traineeship despite the pandemic.

The effects of our trainees’ work can be seen, among others, on the website of our school. These include blogs kept by the trainees during their mobility, a collection of recipes for regional delicacies from Sicily and some food preparation videos. To find out more about our project please go to:…

Anna Bilicka

Project coordinator

Centrum Kształcenia Ustawicznego w Toruniu

(Continuing Education Centre )


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Anna Bilicka
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