Caribbean cruise

8 03 2012

Last year, I wrote about a beautiful cruise that my friends and I went on, travelling in the Persian Gulf on the Costa Deliziosa. This year, we decided to do a cruise on the Costa Luminosa, the twin vessel of Costa Deliziosa, in the Caribbean Islands. Sadly, though, this cruise wasn’t as beautiful as last year’s.

Costa Luminosa is beautiful, but the Deliziosa ship that we travelled on last year is newer, pleasanter, more colourful and more luxurious than its twin. The cruise in the Caribbean sea was more tiring than travelling in the Persian Gulf because every day the ship arrived at a different island and in every port people were landing and boarding. This continuous activity was stressful! The ship was always in working progress, so the guests never had peace and quiet.

However, actually visiting the Caribbean islands is beautiful. The French Antilles, Guadeloupe, Martinque and half of St Martin have wonderful, untouched beaches and sparkling seas, while the Dutch half of St Maarten is very touristic, full of well-equipped beaches and many organised activities like watercrafting, surfing, bars with music and everything that tourists like.

Santo Domingo has a wonderful marine park and two little islands, Catalina and Saona, where you can find white beaches and transparent seas of blue, green and turquoise hues.

The Virgin Islands and Antigua are the best islands we visited. These islands have beautiful vegetation, exotic fruit trees and pineapple and banana plantations. These islands have many beaches: Antigua has 365 of them, and Virgingorda Island has many small beaches between groups of large granite stones.

Antigua is a big, free port. In this place, you can buy jewellery, watches and precious stones.

The Caribbean Islands are a beautiful place for a wonderful holiday but  in my opinion, a cruise isn’t the most relaxing way to visit them!

by Rita Montagna, pre-elementary level


Christmas poem: winning entry

19 12 2011


The top writers of this year’s Christmas poetry competition were KET students Simone (13), Davide (13) and Andrea (12)! Here is the lovely poem they wrote:

C ookies and milk are under the tree
H olly and lights are over the door
R udolph is going to fly
I ce and snow: get ready to play!
S anta is coming down the chimney
T he Christmas tree is full of stars
M any families are eating together
A nd children are opening their presents
S aying, “Merry Christmas!”

Job profile: military peacekeepers

27 11 2011

Working in the military is not an easy profession, especially for those who have to spend a lot of time abroad. How much do we really know about the work of soldiers? Surely not enough! The military lifestyle – because it’s more a lifestyle than merely a job – is an honourable one that helps to provide security for a country and its population. More than simply a 9-to-5 activity, it’s a profession that many feel deep down in their hearts. It’s not a typical kind of job and it can be hard for others to imagine exactly what these military workers go through. Thus, this post aims to give you a little insight into the lives of two military men who are both active in peacekeeping missions abroad.

The first interview is with a helicopter pilot who has recently returned from a three-month mission in Afghanistan. We talked to him about what it’s like to serve his country both here and overseas…

Q: Why do you like your job?
A: I like my job because even though it doesn’t lead to something material, it serves the people and provides security. My kind of work is something you do for others, not for yourself.

Q: Which school did you go to that made it possible to be in your position?
A: I studied at military academy because it gives you the best preparation for this kind of job.

Q: Many people think that soldiers on missions earn a lot of money. Would you say this is true?
A: [laughing] How much?! I’m not interested in rumours, but I have to say that so far I’ve never seen a rich soldier. Certain things are not done for money!

Q: In general, how is the life of a group in a barrack, and more specifically, during a mission?
A: You must have patience. Everyone has their own needs and preferences and you shouldn’t judge their faults, just accept them. Only in this way can we learn to live with each other. Especially on missions, the group gives you the strength to do things you can’t do alone.

Q: Fortunately, this Christmas you’ll be in your home country. What do you want to do?
A: Obviously, I want to spend time with my family and relax.

Q: What do you do in Afghanistan at Christmas?
A: I work, just like every other day!

Q: How do you live with the feat of spending three months here and three months on mission, then three months back here and three months on mission again?
A: This is not easy to deal with.

Q: How has your job changed you?
A: This is a profession that requires commitment in every aspect and it changes you deeply… but in the end, we’re human beings just like everyone else.

Q: When I say, “Afghanistan”, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
A: Our work in Afghanistan is a peace mission. It’s very complicated but satisfying.

Q: Thinking of all your missions past and future, do you sometimes feel afraid?
A: Only a crazy person would have no fear!

Q: Now a tricky question: How do you deal with the death of your friends and colleagues?
A: Sorry, I’d rather not answer that.

Q: Sorry! Last question: Is there anything you’d like to change?
A: I wish more people appreciated the role of people like us who are not in the spotlight. We continually serve the country both here and abroad, working constantly and quietly on peacekeeping missions, helping with earthquakes, floods and so on. I think it’s the noblest work that exists.

Thank you. We’re proud of you!

In the second interview, we asked an army officer about all things mission-related…

Q: How often do you go on missions?
A: About once every two years.

Q: Where have you been sent so far in your military career?
A: I’m currently on my second mission in Afghanistan. The other missions I’ve performed were in the Balkans and I also went to Senegal once, but only for training.

Q: What’s the longest time you’ve served abroad?
A: The missions I do are usually for about six months each time.

Q: How do you pack for a mission?
A: I always make a list of all the things I need to take, but packing for my current mission was particularly difficult because there aren’t any shops near the base, so I had to think of all the things I would need for a six month stay. As well as my uniforms, casual clothes and military gear, I also had to bring enough toothpaste, soap, shampoo, vitamins, etc. for half a year… and it all had to weigh less than 50 kg in total!

Q: What’s a typical day for you?
A: I work during the day so the hours are quite normal, just long. I get up in the morning, have breakfast, work for about five hours, have a short lunch break and work for another five or six hours. Theoretically, we should have a day or two off during the week, but in reality we often work every day.

Q: How do you stay fit while you’re on missions?
A: I use the gym on base and go running a few times a week. Unfortunately I can’t go swimming or cycling here because there aren’t the facilities to do so.

Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: We don’t have a lot of spare time here, but I packed a pile of books to read and I relax by watching movies on my laptop.

Q: When you’re abroad, what do you miss the most?
A: I miss my family, my friends, socialising while drinking a cold beer, and sleeping in my own bed.

Q: How do you keep in touch with people?
A: Fortunately, thanks to email, facebook and skype, it’s not difficult to keep in contact with people nowadays.

Thank you to the two interviewees for this illuminating insight
into the military lifestyle!

A festival in Lecce

14 11 2011

by Ettore (12 years old)

My favourite festival is Carnival. We dress in costume as ghosts, assassins or monsters. Then I go with my friends to the centre of the city. We throw eggs, water, tea or soap foam at each other and we play jokes on girls. At 8 pm we set off fireworks and throw firecrackers. At 9 pm we have dinner at McDonalds and afterwards we go home to have a shower. At midnight, we ring each other and play telephone jokes.

One dark and stormy night…

29 10 2011

10-minute Halloween stories written in class


Giulio and Davide wrote:

… there was a bat. The bat’s name was Francesco. He liked to drink people’s blood. He killed 325 people. On Halloween, Francesco killed 50 more children for Halloween. Then he went to sleep on a tree with all their heads because he collected them.

Benedetta (13), Francesca (14) and Ester (14) wrote:

… there was a vampire in a haunted house. A witch knocked at the door and said, “Trick or treat!” But when the vampire opened the door, the witch died of a heart attack. Later, a ghost killed the vampire and ate all the witch’s sweets. Then the ghost died of stomach ache.


Simone (13), Davide (13) and Andrea (12) wrote:

… a girl was walking in the woods. She heard strange noises and there were a lot of spiders and bats. She arrived at home. It was all dark and black. She opened the door and saw the light was turned off. She turned it on and saw a lot of blood on the floor. She was scared and started to shout. She went upstairs to the bedroom. There was a skeleton on the bed and more strange noises. Then, in the mirror, she saw the reflection of a ghost behind her. She turned around quickly. The ghost had a sword with blood on it. She died on the night of Halloween.


Alice (13) and Giorgia (13) wrote:

… five children were playing in a park, when their ball went over the gate of a haunted house. The children opened the gate and went into the garden of the house, but the gate closed them in. They were scared! The five children saw their ball, but when they tried to take it, the ball disappeared. They heard a scream. Then there were just four children left. The four children jumped over the wall and ran back to their house.





Eleonora (13) and Alessia (13) wrote:

… while vampires were drinking people’s blood and witches were flying in the dark with their brooms, some children went trick-or-treating and arrived at a haunted house. It was infested with ghosts. The children were scared, when suddenly a monster with a horrible face arrived. He didn’t have any eyes and his mouth was full of spiders. Suddenly, they were saved by a scary witch and her black cat, who took them away from the monster. But then she put the children in a cauldron, boiled them and ate them. And then she lived happily ever after.

Do the youth have it easy?

19 06 2011

A teenager’s response to this pertinent question

I have read with interest a letter in this newspaper pointing out how life is pretty easy for young people nowadays. But even with all those labour-saving devices and with more opportunities for study and leisure than in the past, are we happier than our parents or grandparents were before?

This question made me think about young people’s lives. With the advent of new technology it will be easier for everyone to do almost everything with less effort and less waste of time. In the foreseeable future I can imagine young students without heavy bags, carrying all their school materials in a handy little laptop. I can see people booking their flight to New York or Tokyo with a simple click.

Of course, life could seem to be easier nowadays, but are we really sure that “easier” always equals “happier”? In the world where we are living, it is possible for everyone to know everything about what is happening in other parts of the world. Everyone can keep in contact with their friends living miles away from them. We can easily get information, pictures and sounds through mobile phones, computers and televisions. The question is: what have all these things got to do with happiness?

Nowadays we are surrounded by an infinite amount of information about everything and technology has invaded our lives, making it more complex and, sometimes, more difficult. I don’t think that now young people are happier than in the past, even though they have so much. On the contrary, I think that because they have got so much, young people have more difficulty in having fun and enjoying every single moment of their lives, perhaps constrained by societal expectations and new technology.

by Alberto

What is happiness?

16 05 2011

Students of the Proficiency English class write their thoughts…

Happiness is:

  • going to school afraid because you haven’t studied, and then finding out that the teacher is absent!
  • the first day spent at the sea after a long, cold winter;
  • obtaining what you’ve always desired;
  • walking in the rain listening to “La vie en rose”;
  • cooking a big chocolate cake for your best friend who doesn’t eat chocolate;
  • spending time with people who make you happy;
  • a rainbow after a rainy day;
  • a sunset over the sea;
  • the joy of people laughing around you;
  • the love uniting different people.